UXM # 215 - 219 (March - July '87), X-Men Annual # 11, Mephisto Vs. # 1 - 4, X-Men vs. The Avengers # 1 - 4, Fantastic Four vs. the X-Men # 1 - 4
A new squad of X-Men is introduced with Longshot, Dazzler, and Havok joining Psylocke, Wolverine, and Storm.
Checking in on Logan
In the last issue (covered in my Mortal Kombat themed Mutant Massacre coverage), Malice took turns possessing the various X-Men and Wolverine is really messed up by it. He has grown to trust his senses, but she disrupted his ability to tell friend from foe, almost resulting in him killing Storm. This is something he has a very hard time handling and will play a role throughout the entire arc.
UXM 215 - 216: Storm and Wolverine pair off.
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - Jackson Guice
In Issue #215, we are starting to set the new status quo for this iteration of the X-Men. After their run in with Malice, Dazzler has decided to stay with the X-Men and officially join their team. Longshot was sent back to Earth during the second New Mutants Annual (as covered in 42: NM 41 - 44 (Captain Britain Crash Course). While Longshot had mysteriously been MIA throughout the Mutant Massacre, he is now officially part of the team.
As a fun programming note, I want to comment on an extra reason this is interesting to me. As you may have heard me talk about in the past, I read the X-Men comic from the 90's when I was a kid. The first 20 issues or so branch off and show us what Longshot and Dazzler are up to. I remember not knowing who they were or wondering why we were supposed to care. Now I get it! Lol, they were part of the X-Universe, but not officially part of the team in the early 90's so it made sense to follow them around.
The team is officially split for a bit here. Rogue takes the three newest members (Psylocke, Dazzler, Longshot) back to Muir Island, along with the injured team members (Colossus, Kitty, Nightcrawler) to be cared for by Moira.
Storm has a side mission and she wants the person she trusts most to cover her tail.
The two of them come to Sara Grey's house. If you recall in X-Factor (covered in 45: X-Factor 12 - 16 (The Fall of an Angel)), Jean's sister Sara had disappeared as noted by Scott and Jean.
Wolverine picks up Jean's scent and freaks the FUCK out. He hadn't been trusting his senses and now he smells Jean. This sets him off the deep end. He accidentally knocks Storm unconscious and runs off into the woods like a wild man.
Storm wakes up captured in a cellar.
Thus begins one of the dumbest two part filler issues I've seen so far. Three geriatric super heroes (who will eventually join Freedom Force) are going to send Storm and a junkie drug dealer out into the woods where they will hunt them "The Most Dangerous Game" style. They think that Storm was responsible for blowing up Sara Grey's house.
The big guy is Stonewall, kind of like a mix between Colossus and Juggernaut. The thin fellow is Super Sabre, a speedster. The grey haired guy is the Crimson Commando, who has enhanced senses.
Meanwhile, Wolverine is still howling in the woods like an animal, trying to make peace with the loss of his senses. They are back and working fine, but he just doesn't trust them yet.
While being hunted, Storm outmaneuvers them over and over again.
The junkie betrays Storm and manages to escape by killing a few pedestrians. This is what shocks Wolverine back into his senses and he eventually meets up with Storm.
Even though Storm had a chance to kill all 3, she gives them mercy and they end up respecting her for it.
By the end she offers them either a fight to the death (with her and Wolverine) or a chance to turn themselves in. They actually decide to turn themselves in and that's how the find themselves with Freedom Force.
Checkin' in on Dazzler
Dazzler is with the team, but we see that the other's don't completely trust her. It's partly because of what she did under Malice's control, partly because of how she hurt human/mutant relations (as covered in my blog about Dazzler the graphic novel), and just because she's new and clearly not sure if she even belongs.
Everyone seems to be testing her, including Callisto. This seems like the typical situation with an ugly woman picking on the pretty woman, but she surprises everyone that she has plenty of bite.
UXM 217 - 218: Dazzler vs. Juggernaut
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - Jackson Guice (217), Marc Silvestri (218)
We start by seeing that good old Sean Cassidy, the Banshee himself, is training the new members of the team on Muir Island.
Dazzler is a bit overwhelmed by everything and ends up running off to give herself some headspace.
She goes to a bar and does some singing and dancing, potentially hooking up with some wizened gentleman in a kilt.
She sees Cain Marko, the Juggernaut, flying by and she decides that she better follow him.
When she goes to follow him, it turns out that he's a big fan of hers! This was hilarious to me.
Eventually he gets ticked off and attacks her.
She passes out from exhaustion or something and he thinks he killed her.
Assuming she's dead, he buries her under rocks.
Luckily she's able to send her mental GPS to Psylocke and the other 3 are able to save her.
The 4 X-Men find Juggernaut wreaking havoc downtown and go to fight him.
It's a real slugfest, but Longshot uses his knives to loosen the helmet, Dazzler blinds him, Rogue drains his powers, and then Psylocke brings him down mentally.
The team is high fiving each other until they learn that this was all a distraction while Black Tom was robbing a bank.
What's up with Alex Summers and Lorna Dane?
Alex and Lorna are still living off the reservation, trying to have a normal life, happily in love.
They come across a Brood Starshark. First of all, I don't recall ever reading about a Brood Starshark, this seems like a new thing to me. Second of all, even if I had heard of a Brood Starshark, this looks like a normal shark to me. Third, I'm 7 issues past this and still haven't seen anything about a Brood so not sure where this is going.
UXM 219: Havok joins the party.
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - Brett Blevins
Havok has a nightmare about the X-Men that feels too real. He decides that he needs to go check on them.
I don't really understand this, except for plot convenience. Why would he need to go alone? The answer? Because Claremont had separate plans for the two of them.
The Marauders are scoping out Alex and Lorna and apparently Lorna is there target.
Similar to his brother, Alex doesn't trust Magneto. Missing out on recent history and seeing Magneto cavorting with the Hellfire Club doesn't help matters.
Ok, so let me fill you in on a few things. First, Havok decides to follow Magneto down into the Morlock sewers. Down here, he discovers that the X-Men are hiding and planning to fake their own death so that they can wage war on the Marauders covertly, without needing to worry about their families being dragged into it.
The X-Men catch Havok listening in and aren't thrilled about it. Psylocke even floats the idea of killing him to protect their secret, which seems way out of character for her. They have a little skirmish where he is going a bit too strong, but eventually it ends.
This ends with him saying that he'll promise to keep their secret and join the team. This makes Havok the 7th X-Men and the team that will be set for a while. I'm a little curious about this. They established their core number of 6 a few issues before (Storm, Wolverine, Psylock, Rogue, Dazzler, Longshot) so I'm not sure why they felt they needed to pigeon hole anyone else onto the team.
More ass beatery...
But in the end Malice takes her over and is now serving as the leader of the Marauders (when Mr. Sinister isn't around).
UXM Annual # 11: Not bad for an annual
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - Alan Davis
Wolverine stumbles back to the mansion on the anniversary of his wedding with Mariko stone cold drunk. The other team members are baffled by this. Also, why are Brian Braddock (Captain Britain) and Meggan here? It's never really explained and they aren't there at any other point. Perhaps warming us up for Excalibur, which have I mentioned how excited I am to start Excalibur. I've never read a single issue and can't wait to find out what's up with that team!
So this super powerful dude named Horde shows up. Turns out that he conquers planets left and right and he wants the X-Men to sneak into a fortress to steal something for them.
There is this real imposing and ominous palace with statues of different races out front. They decide that they have no choice but to do as he says, but they do realize that whatever they are being sent to get might be strong enough to defeat him as well.
Ok. WHAT. THE. FUCK. Let me quote myself from my last X-Men blog about the Mutant Massacre: "I love this. Storm is being a compassionate leader and the brute Wolverine is showing his sensitive side by supporting Storm 100%. You know it's a sign of excellent writing when a male and female character can have a tender moment, show physical affection (holding hands), and no one is wondering if they are going to get romantic. These are just two excellently written characters who have developed a strong friendship and relationship. Everyone understands that. "
Ok so what the hell is this!? I'm all jonesing about how they can hold hands without it getting romantic, now these "non romantic" friends are making out before battle! I don't recall ever hearing anything about these two having a romantic relationship so it's possible this is just another sign of two friends getting VERY close, but it looks like I was way wrong!
Alright, so pretty cool ending here. Along the way each of the team members are distracted by their greatest desire and disappear one by one. It ends up being Wolverine who is the only one strong enough (Storm is close) to buck his dreams and stay focused. It turns out that there is a super powerful gem which once Logan gets his hands on it, is granted limitless power. He feels what it's like to become one with the universe. He could have been omnipotent, but he choose to give the power back and only use it to help his team. While it's not explicitly stated, I would like to believe that this is related to his lack of desire to be a team leader. He doesn't mind being a follower as long as the leader is up to the challenge.
Fantastic Four vs. X-Men
The X-Men go to Reed Richards for his help saving Kitty since she is phasing more and more out of our reality. Meanwhile, an old journal of Reed's pops up insinuating that Reed may have intentionally transformed the F4 into the super powered beings they are today. This journal pushes Reed to question himself and he refuses to help the X-Men, which turns into a fight between the two groups. Eventually Doctor Doom shows up and offers to save Kitty where Reed couldn't, but even he struggles. Eventually we learn that Doom was responsible for fabricating the journal, Reed gets his confidence back and Kitty comes out of this miniseries restored!
This is probably worth the read, but you could stick to learning that Kitty is cured and be on your way if you wanted to skip it.
X-Men Vs. Avengers
This entire miniseries is about Magneto. A chunk of Asteroid M falls to the planet and Magneto drops everything to go collect it. He not only finds his old costume (including helmet), but he finds technology that will allow him to change the minds of ordinary humans to make them less anti-mutant. While this is happening, a group of Russian mutants decide to arrest (or murder?) Magneto and the Avengers show up to arrest him. While the X-Men are confounded by Magneto's behavior they fight the other groups to protect him. The 4th issue actually ends with a conclusion to the trial from UXM #200 which was never completed and he's let off.
So this issue was very confusing because it REALLY looked like this was going to serve as the tipping point with Magneto going back to his evil ways, however it ended less clear cut than that. I've done some research and it looks as though the intention was to turn Magneto evil, however the decision was changed partway through and a new author was brought in for the 4th issue where they tried to keep the status quo by the end. Super confusing!
The writing isn't terrible in this, but it ends without making a big impact on the larger story so you can skip this pretty easily.
Here's a series you can definitely skip. It's not terribly written, but it's not great either. Basically Mephisto executes on a convoluted plot to keep tricking various Super Hero teams, but by the end nothing actually happens. The End.
This set of comics establishes the "New Team" that will be in place for the next few years. Longshot, Dazzler, and Havok join Storm, Wolverine, Rogue, and fresh Psylocke to round out the new team. Magneto is still tied to this team, but I think I'm going to stop considering him a team member as he serves primarily as the keeper of the New Mutants.
The ghost of Christmas future shows up for this era, introducing us to a number of artists who will make a huge impact in the near future. Claremont borrows Jackson Guice from his New Mutants run, brings in Marc Silvestri who will eventually be the primary X-Men penciler and eventually settle in with Wolverine, and even Alan Davis who will be one of the biggest influencers on Excalibur.
Marc Silvestri had the following to say in Comic Creators on X-Men:
"Honestly, I’ve always hated Havok. He had this antenna thing on his his head that I never understood. I didn’t really care for Psylocke all that much either, until Jim changed her. I thought he gave her a bit more pizzazz. Storm was a lot of fun too. She had this quiet nobility about her. When she walked into a room, you wanted to hear what she had to say, even if she said nothing."
There was a little drama on the Avengers vs. X-Men miniseries with the creative team as a CBR article confirms that there was a last minute story change:
"The big reveal in the last issue would be that Magneto was back to being a super-villain (in other words, no more "conflicted anti-hero" or whatever).
However, before the series ended, the higher-ups at Marvel decided that such a story was not a good idea, so Tom DeFalco was tapped to write the NEW ending to the series, which has the status quo basically staying the same"
This really explains a lot as this issue really seemed to be making Magneto a villain again, undoing years of character work by Claremont. I'm relieved that they decided to keep him as an anti-hero for now, but it's tough to read this without feeling overwhelmed by confusion.
Even though it's been a while since we've checked in with Forge, we see that Storm is starting to think about him more and more.
I wanted to highlight this panel of Psylocke. She seems to be portrayed as the calm force of the team lately. I wonder if Claremont was grooming her for leadership at some point. I don't think that will ever truly materialize because the Psylocke I remember from the 90's was more of a rogue, hot asian, assassin who did things her own way. Really curious to see how she goes from this mature British chick to the deadly asian assasin I recall...
Regardless, I really like the strong characterization she has now. She is already serving as a mentor to the other characters.
Storm is having a converstation with Psylocke (because she is portrayed as the next most responsible) about Longshot. Longshot is portrayed as being pretty clueless about being on earth, about being an adult, and about pretty much everything. But Storm notes that he seems to be fitting in more and more as a hero, which is what counts.
In this panel we see that Longshot got some images of the future. I'm not sure if this is an extra power of his or just a fluke. We'll have to keep our eye on this!
Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Kitty are each down for the count and being transferred to Muir Island to keep them safer and for additional medical attention.
We see Kitty continually walking around in her phased form. In this case acting like a typical teenager and fawning over how cute Longshot is.
Finally, we get some concrete updates with Maddy. So it looks as though Arclight and Scalphunter had kidnapped her in an ambulance before she escaped. They hunted her down and shot her, assuming she was dead until she wakes up from a coma. Does this also mean that the Scalphunters are responsible for Karma's siblings or Jean's sister Sara? Or is this unrelated?
My Rating - 7/10
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