52: UXM 228-234 (The X-Men Down Under)

What’s Covered?


UXM 228 - 234 (April - Sept '88)

Roster Watch


Synopsis



UXM #228: Dazzler takes a trip down memory lane

Writer - Chris Claremont

Pencils - Rick Leonardi

This one is as filler as filler issues get, and therefore only gets this one panel highlighted by me! To make a long story short, Wolverine joins Dazzler as she goes to help an old bounty hunter friend of hers (O.Z. Chase from the Dazzler comic which I didn't read) who got in trouble with some Russian mobsters. Other than more humorous examples of Wolverine being tough on Dazzler, not much happened here.



UXM #229: Reavers

Writer - Chris Claremont

Pencils - Marc Silvestri

We're introduced to a group of cyborg thugs who have been teleporting into various locations (typically banks), looting and killing, then teleporting over.

A talented matriarch at HOAN International Bank, Jessan Hoan, is one of the sole survivors of the Reavers latest attack. While she plays a small role in this issue, she will become a larger player in Wolverine's solo title.

FIRST ALERT: This is the first time we see the mutant teleporter, Gateway. He is a silent Aborigine who has the ability to know exactly where people need to be sent (and when to bring them back) via teleportation. He's working for the Reavers here but will eventually partner with the X-Men.

Of course, the X-Men catches wind of their activity and shows up to kick their ass.

After the Reavers are defeated, the X-Men aren't sure whether they can trust sending them to jail, but they also can't slaughter them. The Goddess Roma shows up and introduces them to the Siege Perilous. I believe this becomes an important element in the series coming forward, but I haven't seen a whole lot of it after this issue. The Reavers are sent through the Siege Perilous where they are judged by cosmic fortunes and given a chance to start their lives over again.

Roma explains that the X-Men will be able to evade all detection outside of the human eye after being saved by her benevolent hand.


UXM #230: XMas Filler Issue

Writer - Chris Claremont

Pencils - Marc Silvestri

There are a few things to dive into here.


First, following a continued theme of the heroes moving into a defeated villains headquarters (X-Men with Magneto's creepy Bermuda triangle island, X-Factor moving into Ship, etc) the X-Men make the Reavers headquarters their new home.


Second, Madelyn takes over a sophisticated computer system that the Reavers were using and this helps her to feel like a key part of the team.


Third, we start to see that Madelyn isn't really sure of herself. She's gone from being a successful pilot with a happy family to now a brand new life in hiding where she's surrounded by mutants and isn't one herself.

This is another SUPER fillery issue that's Xmas themed. Longshot stumbles across the Reavers gold stash. His pschometry (ability to sense a psychic story from inanimate objects) allows him to figure out who most of these trinkets below to. The X-Men literally go around the world on X-mas Eve, returning presents to people. Kind of cheesy.


On a related note, they don't return everything and they now have a shitload of riches at their disposal. This hasn't been mentioned a single time since this issue, but I feel like it should be. Having access to a lot of cash can be in an important asset in their fight against evil. And it's not like Claremont has ignored economics, because we've seen Professor X begging Warren for cash at times when the mansion needed to be rebuilt. (FYI, Dazzler does get herself a motorcycle though.)

This issue is also used to show a breakthrough moment between Gateway and either the team, or at least Rogue. Throughout the last few issues she has tried to have a conversation with him. Eventually she gives him a present (a flute) and he grabs her hand before she leaves and signals for her to sit next to him while he plays. He has clearly won her over and I'm not sure if it's just her acts of kindness or if it was the fact that he just got done teleporting the team around the world to give presents to people so now he likes their heroism. Either way, it's a nice moment.


UXM #231: Colossus in Limbo

Writer - Chris Claremont

Pencils - Rick Leonardi

Colossus really wants to check in on Illyana and help with her crusade in Limbo. The X-Men are very hesitant to send him because everyone, including loves one, need to believe that they are dead in order to allow them to strike at their enemies (which they take a while to start doing). Colossus is ultimately able to go because Gateway walks into their house and points at Colossus, signaling to the team that he must be meant to go.


It actually works out well because Illyana assumes that Peter is just a ghost that she manifested to help her out and he plays the part to help keep his secret intact.

We've seen a few mentions in recent issues about Illyana accidentally turning things evil. In this issue, we learn that she accidentally manifested a villain from childhood stories, Baba Yaga. Baba Yaga captures the New Mutants and Colossus helps Illyana fight her, Sym, and other demons.

Colossus and Illyana have a tender moment before Gateway teleports him back home. Peter is able to scratch that itch of seeing and helping his sister, she got the character growth she needed, and they are still maintaining the story that he is dead.


***Please note that I will cover more of the specifics of this issue in an upcoming New Mutants blog so that I keep my Illyana coverage in one place.


UXM #232-234: Brood Again!

Writer - Chris Claremont

Pencils - Marc Silvestri

Wow. Ok, so a couple things to chat about here. First, we saw a LONG time ago that Havok and Polaris stumbled across a Brood Starshark (which I don't recall ever seeing in the original Brood stories). Regardless, a few humans stumble across the Starkshark, signaling to us that the Brood are back.


Second, is it me or does this look crazy similar to Deep Blue Sea when Samuel L. Jackson got eaten by a shark like this? I wonder if this comic inspired that scene! It's too familiar for it not to be connected.

Harry Palmer, a human medic, watches as his friends are brutalized by the Brood 1 by 1. He did end up escaping and it was him driving like a maniac that drove Havok and Polaris off the road many issues ago.

We see that Harry didn't get away unscathed and has been living for months infected by a Brood without realizing it. This time around, the Broods are targeting mutants.

In this arc, we learn that the mutant Brood's actually have codenames. We have Brickbat who seems to be your typical mutant bruiser, Tension appears to have elongated arms or something, Diverbomber can fly (which I thought all Brood can do anyway), and Temptress can disorient and possess people.

Rogue and Psylocke (sporting her new battle armor) are taken over by Temptress and spend some of this arc fighting against the X-Men.

We see our first example of the X-Men not showing up on camera.

Colossus grabs Tension from behind and effortlessly cracks his neck. It was a big deal when Colossus first killed. He did without hesitation when he killed Riptide. Now he's doing it on the regular here. Poor, simple Colossus is becoming far too comfortable with killing.

Each of the Brood are killed by the team. Wolverine captures Harry Palmer as the first Brood (and last living). Harry reverts back to human form at the moment to try to get genuine sympathy from Wolverine, but he knows better and Snikt's his way into ending the Brood threat.


My Connections


Hot on the heels of the X-Men's faked death, the team finds themselves relocated to Australia where they can hide out and strike at their enemies from the shadows. Or at least that's the idea, they don't do much of that in these arcs.


There is a lot of setup in these issues for the big Inferno crossover. I JUST finished reading Inferno and realized that I barely understood the setup in my first read through, so it's pretty fun to re-read #228 -234 and truly capture all of things being seeded for the future. I'm going to nerd out more when I officially get to Inferno, but OMG I consider it my favorite comic story of all time. Absolutely loved it, but we're not there yet!


Staying on topic, #228 - 231 are a series of standalone one shots establishing the new status quo down under. While the X-Men aren't truly dead, they will be completely undetectable by cameras, microphones, scanners, etc. #234 - 234 brings back the Brood (after being hinted at a LONG time ago). While this story isn't bad and it brings in brand new elements (like Brood with mutant powers), it also doesn't quite capture the magic of the original Brood Saga. I do appreciate, however, that this arc is much shorter and to the point than the last one which dragged out a bit.


I also got WAY too excited to be introduced to Gateway, the mute Aborigine teleporter. I've been dabbling a bit in Hickman's 2019 X-Men re-boot (which is amazing) and Gateway is used a decent bit, but I had NO IDEA what was up with the little man. Now I get it. Sort of.

Speaking of Gateway, “Representations of Indigenous Australians in Marvel Comics,” scholar Dennin Ellis compares Gateway to another Marvel character, Talisman, and notes that:

"they both serve as ancillary characters who make it possible for the main characters to act, rather than acting themselves."

I see this as yet another example of Claremont trying to utilize the X-Men comic to respectfully represent other cultures, however this also gives the reader the impression that these are simply people and I fear some could draw the wrong conclusions about Aborigines.


Creators

I was recently reading "Comics Studies: A Guidebook" by Marc Singer where he had the following to say about the X-Men:


"The X-Men were depicted as objects of fear, prejudice, and oppression, leading readers to interpret them as free-floating metaphors for African American, gays, Jews, and other marginalized groups – not to mention adolescents, particularly those outcasts who read comic books"
"Turning his mutant heroes into a malleable allegory, Claremont created a powerful vehicle for reader identification by conflating a conditional social ostracism with systematic and institutional oppression."

As I've been working on this blog, I've been diving deeper and deeper into the X-Men fanbase. This quote helped me put substance a thought I've been having, but couldn't quite put my finger on. I've noticed that there is a very large X-Men following with marginalized groups like minorities, but especially the LGBTQ+ community. I've been wondering why the X-Men hits me so hard when I happen to be a white, affluent, hetero male. I see to be missing all of the marginalization that so many of my fellow fans flock to. It was this book, talking about adolescents, which finally helped me make the connection. I had a tough adolescence where my affinity for Star Wars and comic books kept me from every breaking into "the cool group" and led me down too many bullying situations. Looking back, I had a better life than most, but at the time I constantly felt like an outsider struggling to be accepted my peers and this explains why the X-Men called to me.


Character Beats


We haven't seen Dazzler much

In case you're worried that Logan is easing up on Dazzler, hes' not. He crashes a danger room session and makes things harder on Dazzler, almost killing her. She's pretty pissed that he treated her that way, but he's just interested in making her stronger. I could see this potentially souring some new readers on Wolverine, but not me. Dazzy has a long way to go to redeem herself from those terrible solo stories and Wolverine has shown time and again that he will stick his neck out for you if you earn his trust (like Kitty, my BFF did).


Checkin in with Havok

Havok has become the conscience of the team. I find this interesting because it aligns with Wolverine questioning whether he has "what it takes" like his brother did. Is he too soft. I think future events make me think that he is. I know we are only a few years away from him leading the new iteration of X-Factor, so when is he going to grow a spine?

While he hesitates, he does kill one of the Brood creatures and feels bad about it.

Later, Havok kills another Brood without hesitating. He's becoming more comfortable with killing, which is probably a good thing considering he's got the most potent mutant power.


Human/Mutant Relations


In the boring Dazzler one shot, we learn that Henry Gyrich has a past relationship with Wolverine. Gyrich acted as Logan's CIA Liason from his time working for the Canadian Government.

In one mini arc, there is a Reverend Connover who goes out of his way to preach pro mutant philosophy. This really doesn't seem like a big plot mover, however this Reverend got so many panels that it makes me think we may see him in the future. At the very least, it was a nice contrast to Revered Stryker from the God Loves, Man Kills Graphic Novel (as covered in my Magneto Special).


Also, that nurse with the smirk on her face was Harry Palmer's partner. Are we supposed to believe that the Brood are still out there? I bet they are.


What's going on Maddie?


As mentioned in my foreword, I caught a LOT more Madelyn content than I did my first time. Let me issue a spoiler, Maddie is about to go bad. If you didn't know that, that's crazy. I only had a vague notion of it and was shocked with each twist and turn. Here I will lay out some of those little seedlings being planted.

Here's Maddie dressing more scandalous. She had always come across as someone who didn't crave attention, so this is different for her. She is also dressing a bit more like Jean.

While scanning the airwaves using Reaver technology, Maddie comes across a TV broadcast with her husband Scott on TV holding hands with a reincarnated Jean Grey. She loses her shit.

Maddie has a long, really messed up dream. In the first part, we see Cyclops taking apart each of his features and giving them to Jean.

Maddie, as a featureless creature, hears Scott tell her that he choose Jean over her. It's not exactly true, but this is what is preying on her.

In the dream, we see that Sym is offering her great power to help her get revenge. She is hesitant to accept, but it appears as though he may have found a way to bind her to him. Sym won't be the last demon to speak with Madelyn.



My Rating - 7/10


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