Uncanny X-Men # 220 - 227
UXM # 220: Kicking it all off...
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - Marc Silvestri
Logan is off by himself, still feeling a bit off from his run in with Malice.
Storm knows where to find Logan, even though he didn't want to be found. Here Storm lays out the premise for the next 7 issues. She is sick of not having powers and is going to set out to find Forge to help her get her powers back.
About FUCKING time. I absolutely can't believe she went this long without her powers. As exciting as it is that she is going to go get her powers back, it's kind of annoying that she hasn't considered finding Forge and asking him prior to this.
I do need to give Claremont credit for taking a risk by having one of his best characters go powerless for so long, but he did milk it a bit longer than I would recommend, but what do I know?
Storm asks Wolverine to lead the team in her absence. He is hesitant at first, but after slapping him around a bit, he agrees.
Storm heads to Dallas to address Forge at his Penthouse headquarters. She's nervous about seeing him again and about the potential of getting her powers back.
Storm finds his Penthouse empty and abandoned.
The security systems are activated and she spends a bunch of time evading their lazers and such.
While Forge isn't there, his mentor Naze is there and tells Storm he knows where to find him. So begins their long journey...
Who let the dogs out!? (Marauders and Mr. Sinister)
Woahhhhhhh! We did it! We got to Mr. Sinister! I'm so pumped. Not only do I personally know Mr. Sinister, but the Maruaders have been so big and so deadly that their leader has been hyped up in a gigantic way.
Also, worth noting, I think I'm most interested in Sinister as a villain because I've heard a lot about him but I don't think I personally know what his whole deal is. I don't think I fully understand his obsession with the Summers family. Looking forward to learning more.
I love this little pin up of the Marauders all lined up together.
So we learn here that Sinister ordered the death of Madelyn. In addition, he was behind the complete erasure of her history, which we saw in X-Factor. This is very interesting. I just mentioned that he is obsessed with Scott and his family, and I don't completely understand what Sinister wants with her, but I'm putting money on the fact that it has to do with Scott. There hasn't been ANY mention of this, but I bet he was behind Sara Grey's (Jean's sister) disappearance. Karma's siblings, who knows!?
Oh! Love this. Do you want to know how to quickly SHOW how badass Mr. Sinister is without telling us? You take a character who no one would question how strong they are, like Sabretooth, and have him effortlessly put down like a rabid dog. Sinister didn't even bother to glance at him while doing so. Well done here, well done! FYI, the Dazzler comic did the opposite of this. Constantly TELLING us how great she is, but rarely showing us.
Dazzler vs. Rogue!?
Dazzler sets up a Danger Room workout where she gets to beat up on Rogue.
There has been some cattiness between Rogue and Dazzler since Allison joined the team. It has been coming to a head lately, spearheaded here where Rogue catches Dazzler beating her up in the Danger Room. We learn that Rogue had a number of run-ins with Dazzler when she was a villain and Dazzler doesn't fully trust her. This side plot is paid off in the next issue.
UXM 221 - 222: Marauders Round 2
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - Marc Silvestri
The X-Men team are camping out by a hospital. It turns out that Maddie called the X-Men for help after she woke up from her coma. It doesn't take long before the Marauders show up and the re-match begins over these two issues.
Scalphunter is about to kill Maddie before Rogue bursts in to save the day.
Vertigo is doing her thing to Longshot, Psylocke, and Dazzler. Longshot throws all 3 out the window, then uses his luck to help them land safely.
Scrambler messes up Havok who hurts Wolverine.
I like this because it shows that Maddie may be human, but she's far from helpless.
We see Polaris working here with the Marauders, but you can see the necklace she is wearing signaling that Malice is in charge.
This is a big, dramatic scene. Polaris wraps Maddie and Rogue in metal and sends them to the bottom of the sea. Dazzler follows after them and swims deep to set them free. Rogue signals to Dazzler to leave her and focus on Maddie, but she comes back to save her too. Dazzler passes out before she can fully free Rogue, but it was enough for Rogue to break free and save them both. This is the conclusion of their rivalry where they agree that they are team-mates and have each others backs.
Havok hits Polaris long distance before he realizes who she is. He is completely distraught after thinking that she turned on them.
We get another GREAT Wolvie vs. Sabre fight. From what I understand, this is a top seller because any issue showing a fight between them is highly sought after.
Ok, so I'm going to read into this a bit more. Sabretooth punches him and is shocked that it broke his hand. We knew that these two have had many scraps before, but this is evidence that they fought BEFORE Wolverine got the Adamantium skeleton.
What's Colossus been up to?
Colossus has mostly recovered since the last time we saw him on Muir Island. From what I understand, Claremont was originally considering bringing Colossus to Excalibur with Kitty and Kurt, but they ultimately decided they didn't need two strong guys on the team (Captain Britain being the other).
As Colossus is hanging out on Muir Island, he meets a mysterious woman who seems to know a lot about him. She encourages him to take back up his hero role and re-join the X-Men, then quickly disappears afterward.
While Colossus is not terminally ill anymore, we learn that he needs to spend most of his time in his armored form from now. It causes him great pain to transition into his human form. I think this is more of an excuse for the illustrator's to constantly draw him in his cooler looking form, but let's just go with it!
Peter calls the mansion to find Illyana and a moment later she teleports to him. They have a nice, warm brother/sister moment before she agrees to teleport him to the rest of the team.
And next time we see him, he'll be joining the team.
Freedom Force check in
Remember the old dudes who were hunting Storm a few issues back (as covered in 46: UXM 215 - 219 (Longshot, Havok, Dazzler))? Well, Crimson Commando, Stonewall, and Suber Saber all join Freedom Force as an alternative way to serve their sentence. ***Note we all thought Super Saber died previously, but he shows back up shortly after this to join the team.
Destiny has a vision of the X-Men dying.
Val Cooper publicly introduces Freedom Force as a government agency.
Destiny's vision spooks Mystique (and the team) and Mystique sets out to warn Rogue to stay away from Dallas (more on that later). I really love how Mystique is a "villain" but she very clearly loves her foster child, Rogue.
This hasn't been officially confirmed yet in our reading, but she is clearly Nightcrawler's mother. Why doesn't she give a shit about him!? I can't believe we haven't heard more about that yet.
Storm's Spirit Journey with Naze
There has been an entire different story going on throughout the issues, following Storm. It starts with her in Forge's abandoned Penthouse in Dallas. We see that she still has strong feelings for Forge.
She sets off with Naze and we start to see that there is more going on here than meets the eye.
Naze takes Storm on a Spirit Quest. Hasn't she been on enough of these?
While Spirit questing, Storm runs into these forgettable monsters/villains called Eye Killers. She beats them.
More forgettable beasts attack her along the way.
Naze is officially revealed to be up to something no good, purposely setting Storm out to destroy Forge. He convinces Storm that Forge is trying to open up a gate on behalf of the evil Adversary that will spell certain Doom for the world.
For the second time in the last few issues, Storm is down with making out with people before she departs them.
Storm scales a mountain and finds Forge, at long last.
She quickly strikes a dagger through his heart.
As he dies, he says that he was actually trying to close a gate opened by the Adversary, not open it.
Storm and Forge jump off the cliff together, but are whisked away into a bright light.
Naze, who from now on I will just call the Adversary, has accomplished his goal and now he's on to destroy the world!
***I give credit to Claremont, who actually set this up all the way back in Issue # 188 when Storm first met Forge. The real Naze had summoned a spell to help them beat the Dire Wraiths and we saw at the end that something had happened to him, but it took 30 something issues (and almost 3 years in publishing) for that reveal to be paid off. This is the disadvantage of me blogging as someone going through this for the first time. I didn't have any idea what that was about, so I didn't much about it when covered previously (25: UXM 184 - 188 (Enter: Rachel & Forge)).
UXM #223 - 226 : Enter the Endgame
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - Marc Silvestri (224 - 227), Kerry Gammill (223)
The Adversary, known as "The Trickster," is now setting his final plan in motion. He has gathered at Forge's penthouse in Dallas and is about to start the process that will end the world.
The Adversary captures Roma, the Goddess who serves as the opposite of the Adversary. From what I understand, she has a lot of backstory in the Captain Britain mythology and will play a consistent role moving forward in both Uncanny X-Men and Excalibur.
Also, when Colossus met that mysterious woman, his sketch didn't match the woman he saw. We see now that Roma was the woman on the sketch, connecting the dots that she had some purpose in convincing him to join the team. Claremont, you devil!
The X-Men head to Dallas to help out Storm. Wolverine goes in first and is ripped to shreds by Forge's defenses. He will be in bad shape for the next few issues.
Freedom Force shows up to stop the X-Men from entering the building, partly because the X-Men are fugitives but mostly because Mystique wants to save Rogue's life. A battle breaks out.
I had to share this just because it's hilarious. The Blob sat on Wolverine and wouldn't get off. He eventually jumps up because Wolverine engaged his claws up his butt. That will wake you up in the morning! And then when the Blog is landing, someone else shows up to say hello...
This is when Colossus teleports in, immediately punching the Blob out of the fight.
The issue ends with the Adversary opening up his rift and merging all timelines together within the city of Dallas.
In the battle, Spiral puts Destiny's faceplate on Dazzler and seals it with a magical knife. This looks a lot more fatal than it is, as this is a magical knife and she wasn't just murdered.
We learn that the Adversary decided to save the lives of Storm and Forge, but they are placed in a realm where time works differently. They actually spend years here. Plenty of time for Storm to grow out her hair, Forge to nurse his wounds, and for them to fall further in love.
The citizens of Dallas are faced with everything from Dinosaurs to Native American Warchiefs.
Mystique and Wolverine decide that they need to make a truce until they can sort out what is happening.
Forge explains, through a surprisingly scientifically strong explanation, that Storm's powers are still there.
ABOUT FUCKING TIME. I can't even say that I'm excited. I'm just annoyed that it took this long. But still, yay!
The X-Men decide that they are going to risk their lives, despite Destiny's warning of their impending death, to go to Forge's Penthouse to help Storm and stop the Adversary (even though they don't know he's to blame yet).
Madelyn behind the scenes
Madelyn has been through the ringer. Almost killed, baby and husband gone, identity stolen.
As his brother's wife, Alex has been taking care of Madelyn. They've actually grown quite close. Almost uncomfortably close.
Even though she's a human, she keeps choosing to stand by the X-Men.
UXM #227: The Final Countdown
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - Marc Silvestri
As the X-Men head to the top of Forge's building, they see a battle unfolding of the Vietcong vs. demons.
We learn that in Vietnam, Forge was ambushed by the Vietcong and used the dead bodies of his 9 comrades to call forth demons to kill his pursuers. He then called in an airstrike to kill all of the demons. This was the experience that both took his leg and pushed him never to use his magical powers again.
Forge, Roma, and Storm are held captive.
Longshot uses his brittle bones or something to get the team through the Adversary's spell and let's the final battle begin.
Longshot is able to hurt him with the cold iron of his knives. Interesting, cold steel helps him. Are there any heroes made of steel that could prove to be his achilles heel. If only a certain God had convinced a certain hero to re-join the X-Men...
Colossus is the ringer who turns the tide of the battle.
The X-Men use their power to hold him at bay while Forge summons a final spell to banish him.
In a major plot point, this entire daring final battle is captured on camera. This seeks to initiate the X-Men into another phase of their evolution, as that of Legends. People will speak highly of the X-Men, for a time.
Forge needs 9 soul's to close the rift he opened in Vietnam, which also let Naze in. Madelyn willingly gives her life as part of the team to set things right. Before doing so, she gives an impassioned speech to Scott, begging him to find their son and avenge her. This will be a major plot point in X-Factor.
The X-Men officially sacrifice themselves to help Forge close the portal.
Kitty watches in Muir Island as the X-Men die.
It would seem that nothing can cheer her up, but she learns that Nightcrawler has come out of his coma. Ooooooh, we're getting closer to Excalibur!
I fricken love this. As Forge walks away, someone is screaming MURDERER at him in a blind, crying rage. You know who it is? Mystique, devastated by Rogue's death.
This is a comic, did you think they would stay dead!? Roma saves them.
Wolverine points out that they are actually able to initiate the plan first brought up in #219, where they can fake their death and go after their enemies without fear of reprisal.
The X-Men are now legends and kind of like spirits. They can't be seen by cameras, computer or psychic scans, etc. They'll go from here to Australia where they'll spend the next era hiding down under.
My Connections and Creators
Even though the Claremont/ Byrne feud is the story of legend, Claremont has a deep history of collaborating with his full creative team.
Claremont wrote an essay in 1988 where he talks about this collaboration in more detail:
"One of the absolute joys of comics – as both a profession and an art form – is that it allows you to work in collaboration with other people. A synthesis of the talents and creative instincts of a writer, a penciller and an editor, wherein what emerges may not be the pristine product of a single mind...but may instead – when all the elements click – be a whole which is far greater than the sum of its parts."
"There’s an excitement, an effervescence, to bouncing ideas off collaborators that quite frankly isn’t there when you’re working by yourself. Because that other mind, coming from different perceptions, with a different creative agenda, can quite suddenly take the story off in directions you might never have dreamed of – which in turn might spark you to go off on a completely different tangent yourself. In a collaboration, there’s more of a sense of the unexpected."
At this point, you can see that he is really working closely with Marc Silvestri. Eventually Marc will comment about how it was tough to keep up with Claremont's incredibly detailed notes and scripting advice, but for now the work the two of them put together is quite brilliant.
Let's get inside Logan's mind
Wolverine gets really pissed that he's bothered at first. Not in a great headspace.
I love how he suggests Rogue or Psylocke, anything to get him not to be the leader, but she pushes back saying they are not ready, he needs to get his head out of his ass and step to the plate. I like that Wolverine is clearly HUGE among fans and a big driver of sales, but Claremont stays true to the character and only begrudingly lets him take over as team leader, on an interim basis.
Havok gets a little whiny with Wolverine outside of the hospital, pissing Wolverine off.
Wolverine questions, not for the last time, whether Havok is "cast from the same mold" as his brother. He really wonders if he's got what it takes to be an X-Man.
Alex is devastated by losing Lorna.
The theme continues of Wolverine picking on Havok.
Dazzler and Rogue's feud is officially over.
There was a point on the beach (after the fight with the Marauders) where Dazzler sucks all of the sound out of the immediate vicinity to re-charge, but in so doing no one can hear anything and it sets people running off freaking out.
Dazzler almost gets hurt in a training exercise and Wolverine gets hard on her case. Essentially accusing her of showing off and telling her to stay focused on being a hero.
Wolverine keeps sticking his cigar in Dazz's face and challenges her to her claim of being a singer, saying he thought she was an X-Man. Wolverine is such a dick as team leader and I'm here for it.
Dazzler tries to blow off some steam by singing at a local bar. She is so excited to feel like a star, but Wolverine is there to make her feel like an ass for not keeping a low profile.
I'm conflicted on Dazzler. She was terribly mistreated in her solo title. I heard that she got much better treated when she joined the X-Men. I'm not sure if this is Claremont trying to lean into the character already established and reform her or if this is just more examples of her being unlikable. This is definitely something I am going to keep my eye on as the issues progress.
Longshot sees the movie that he contributed to as a stuntman has come out. He notices that there is a Longshot listed, but he has had his memory removed. He also thinks fondly about Ricochet Rita, the stuntwoman who he spent a lot of time with in the Longshot miniseries. She had accompanied him back to the Mojoverse, but we hadn't heard anything about her since. (This was all covered in my miniseries blog).
While fighting Spiral, she notices that he used his power to "see something" tender inside her. There is some sort of connection between these two, as hinted at in his miniseries and carried forward here.
This is just a quick scene showing us that anti-mutant sentiment is very much alive and well.
HUGE POINT here that was introduced off-screen. The government has passed the Mutant Registration Act, forcing mutants to register their powers. I'm really shocked this hasn't received more attention to date.