UXM #235 - 238 (October - Nov. '88), UXM Annual # 12, NM Annual # 4, X-Factor Annual # 3, Classic X-Men # 21 - 22.
This blog post is really covering three different examples of storytelling: A typical 4 issue story arc, a Marvel-wide event covered in Annuals, and some sanctioned retcon happening in Classic X-Men.
The main focus of this blog will be on telling the story of Genosha via issues 235 - 238 of the Uncanny X-Men comic line. Similar to the upcoming Inferno storyline, I had heard bits of pieces about Genosha but really didn't understand what it was. Something about a mutant stronghold, slavery, Magneto in charge, and genocide. This story talks about the slavery story and I'm not positive if the other story beats will happen eventually or if I'm just misunderstood. Genosha is another made up country in the Marvel universe (similar to Wakanda, Sokovia, or Madripoor) where mutants are enslaved to benefit the humans. Pretty solid story arc here that I'm excited to cover.
The second story I will be covering is the Evolutionary War. It's pretty cool watching Marvel experiment with different ways to tell stories. The first ever universal event was Secret Wars, which was an 11 issue series that required all of it's heroes to be away from their main stories for a period of time. It brought in massive sales, but seemed to really interfere with the ongoing stories that the individual writer's had in place. The second attempt was Secret Wars 2 which was another event (this one 43 issues long) that brought the Beyonder (the main characters of the SW2 event) to each of the individual comic lines as opposed to creating an isolated event (even though it did have several comics entirely devoted Secret Wars Volume 2). For the Evolutionary War, the Marvel event took place across the Annuals of every (I think it hit on all) ongoing Marvel story. I personally like this the best as the Annuals are typically self contained stories anyway so you can accomplish a lot without interrupting the main storylines.
The Evolutionary War covers 12 various Annuals telling the story of the High Evolutionary and his attempt to re-design the genetics of every being on earth. While I will only directly cover the Annuals of the 3 X-Universe series (X-Men, X-Factor, New Mutants), I did read all of them and will give a short overview below. I wanted to read this because I know a little bit about the High Evolutionary since he created Adam Warlock. While the X-Men is my favorite series, I was actually most "well read" as a kid on the original Guardians of the Galaxy (would love to blog about them one day), the Infinity Gauntlet series (still the best comic event or set of comics I've ever read), and anything including Adam Warlock.
The third set of comics that will make an appearance is Classic X-Men. For those of you who haven't been reading with me from the beginning, Classic X-Men is a re-release of classic X-men stories with new short stories created by Chris Claremont. I would put money on the fact that this was created solely to help Marvel shore up the new Phoenix retcon stating that Jean Grey wasn't killed and the Phoenix was a separate entity (and to make Marvel money because the X-men sell!) While they were at it, they retconned a whole bunch of other stories to make them "fit better" with new continuity. I think I made a mistake by reading the Classic X-Men when I originally read the series as opposed to reading them in publication order. I realize now that these back stories were told as ways to bolster the current storylines! As we'll see that two Classic X-Men stories made little sense to me months ago (which is when I read them) but make complete sense now!
Let's get into it!
Synopsis: The Evolutionary War
As mentioned in the foreword, the Evolutionary War was a Marvel Event which took place in the Annual's. Most (but not all) of the Annuals push the story forward, however even those that don't, contain a bit of origin about the High Evolutionary. The High Evolutionary was a human scientist who became obsessed with advancing evolution. To make a long story short, he was able to advance his own evolution turning him into one of the most powerful beings in the universe and this annual focuses on his attempts to do something similar to all of earth.
X-Factor Annual # 3
The majority of this issue focuses on X-Factor trying to save a race of subterranean creatures. The High Evolutionary came to the conclusion that this species will never evolve and that he should eliminate them. Eventually it is discovered that one of them is a telepath and he stays his hand. What makes this issue awesome is that Apocalypse shows up and they have a battle of both wits and muscles.
I love this. It kind of reminds me of X-Men First class when right before Magneto (Michael Fassbender) kills Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) he says something like "I actually agree with everything you stand for, but you killed my mom." Apocalypse is like "I actually totally agree with your belief that evolution is the most important thing and we should eliminate the weak, but you are an infant. You can't rush it. I've been around for hundreds of years slowly influencing evolution and that's the way to go, you dweeb!"
X-Men Annual # 12
The X-Men learn that the entire Savage Land has been wiped out by the High Evolutionary (although they don't learn who is responsible until the very end).
There is a REALLY bizarre "new" short story in Classic X-Men # 22 where Storm is magically transported to some other realm with a bunch of space aliens and a giant flying dog with a spaceship on his back. When I originally read that I just assumed Claremont was on crack when he wrote that. I still think he probably was, but it did actually factor into this story.
It turns out that not all of the Savage Land inhabitants were slain. The space people and their dog spaceship saved a bunch of them (still weird and unnecessary).
Some giant robot thing is attacking the remaining Savage Land survivors. (Yes I know I'm really phoning it in for my research on these character names but this all has such low impact on the overall story that I'm trying to fly through it).
It turns out that Garrok was inside the robot thing! I was really shocked. Not because I give two shits about Garrok but because I couldn't believe they brought this pointless character back for a 3rd story. It's like someone thought "Hey we're at the savage land! Remember how people loved Storm getting upset after she couldn't save a villain. Let's misunderstand why people liked that and keep bringing the villain back!" Yea, we don't care about Garrok. Also, this was the backstory re-told in this classic too. Moving on!
Collossus, you dawg!
Something that might be important happened in the X-Men Annual. First, let's venture into Classic X-Men # 12 to see how Claremont tried to get us to care more.
So back in the original story, we see that Colossus saved some locals (including Nereel) from a raging dinosaur.
Nereel and her tribe explain that there is a very special tradition Peter must take part in to celebrate him saving them. It's a threesome, lol!
The original comic had no backstory and basically just showed some indigenous girls throwing themselves at Peter and him carelessly throwing his metal schlong around. I would put money on the fact that Claremont got some shit for that, so this is his attempt at fixing it. "No, no, it's all cool! You see these weren't simple local girls. Colossus saved them first and it's actually part of their complex culture to have threesomes. See, problem solved! Also, look, did you notice that Colossus was hesitant this time? Cool, problem solved for realz."
Ok, back to the Annual. When Peter heard that the Savage Land was wiped out, he got really mad. I wondered if they were going here and they did!
It turns out that not only is Nereel alive, and we are truly going back here, but Nereel (since she's the only character with name other than Ka-Zar) is their leader now. Look at that!
WOAH. Did you catch that? Colossus is probably a dad, people! Did you think I was covering this just for fun? Well, I was, but this is crazy too. It's not a confirmed child, but heavily implied. I bet you, random internet reader, $100 that this never comes up again. Who is going to take my bet?
UXM #235 - 238 (Genosha)
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - Rick Leonardi (235, 237), Marc Silvestri (236, 238)
As mentioned above, Genosha is an island nation off the coast of Africa. We open here with a mutant man trying to smuggle his illegally bred mutant baby off the island on a plane.
We pick up in a different country with the baby. It turns out that Madelyn has been serving as a pilot for the Red Cross (or something similar) and ended up in possession of the missing mutant baby. A genoshan mutant hunting group called the Press Gang show up to retrieve the baby and capture Madelyn and her co-pilot friend Jennifer.
The X-Men show up to free Madelyn, but they are too late.
Wolverine and Rogue are captured by the Genoshan military and brought back to Genosha.
A mutant named Wipeout removes all powers from Rogue and Wolverine.
While there are some mutants choosing to work for the government (like the Press Gang and Wipeout), we see that the rest of mutants born on Genosha are pressed into slavery. This panel shows one such mutant being employed as a gardner. So this is what Genosha is all about. It's an extremely wealthy country, but also very secretive. The outside world doesn't know that mutants are held captive here, nor that they are the reason for the country's wealth. Mutants are not born any more, they are bread and their genetics adjusted to fit whatever the country needs.
Genosha is led by a man named the Genengineer and we spend a lot of time with his son. It turns out that his son was engaged to Jenny, the pilot taken with Maddie. Her parents faked her genetics test so she could remain with the humans, but now the gig is up and the entire family is going to jail. This sparks an entire sub-plot where the son serves as our eyes into the warped civilization.
A very, very tragic story takes place. Rogue spent her whole life wondering what it's like to be touched. Here in Genosha her power and clothes are stripped away and the first power-free contact she has is with some guards who touch her inappropriately. It's clarified later on that it wasn't rape, but she is very emotionally distraught over this. Poor kid.
With Rogue having a mental episode, the Carol Danvers persona (Ms. Marvel) comes to the forefront and becomes the primary personality. Her military background comes in handy and this is a plotline we will see more regularly for the immediate future. Carol and Rogue take turns being in charge.
In another super interesting plot point, we see that Wolverine is actually dying without his healing factor. It turns out that his adamantium skeleton is actually poisoning him every day, so without his healing factor it starts to kill him.
Also, remember how Carol and Wolverine have a past!? There's some Rogue/Carol/Logan buddy cop action to be had.
The son challenges his dad and learns the harsh truth.
Wolverine and Carol/Rogue escape jail.
I included this because it's another example of mutant exploitation (a mutant garbage collector), but also because of the new racist term, "Genejoke." I would normally create a "human/mutant relations" section and include this, but this entire story is a human/mutant relations story.
All the while Magneto and other mutants have been terrified that one day mutants would be subjugated by the humans and no one knew it was already happening in Genosha. Pretty Heavy stuff.
The X-Men finally figure out that Maddie, Logan, and Rogue are in Genosha and show up to mess some stuff up.
Wolverine vows to "bring this flaming country down." Can't wait to see that!
In a typical thought process for slaveowners, the Genengineer points out that the mutants are well cared for.
When Madelyn asks why he doesn't share this philosophy with the outside world, he snaps back. Love this irony.
Also, there is a LOT of Madelyn Inferno prepping going on in this series, but I'm saving it for my next blog which will be the first of a 4 part series on Inferno.
The son ends up with Logan and Rogue and finds his way into a mutant concentration camp, further pushing him to challenge his father.
There is a final battle and the X-Men are victorious.
The X-Men leave Genosha in the hands of the son. He plans to lead a revolution and to tell the world about what is happening here in the country. I'm sure it won't be long before we see Genosha again.
Checkin' in with Havok
At the end of the series, we see Havok freaking out about Madelyn. She finds him and they start making out. The first time (I believe) that they show PDA in public. Havok's infatuation with Maddie will play a big part in the upcoming Inferno story.
Checkin' in with Dazzler
Not a huge story, but during the Annual Dazzler finds a way to use her powers to fly! I wonder if this is a one time thing or a new power she'll continue to use. I am betting on the former. We'll see!
Checkin' in with Longshot
Alriiiiight. So, I've been tracking whether or not Longshot and Dazzler are a couple. If you see my sleuthing here, you'll see that Longshot appears on a balcony with a bunch of Dazzler looking clothes crumped on the floor. You'll also see that Dazzler comes out on the balcony herself wearing his coat. These two are banging!
But...what's this? Rogue and Longshot, also making out. Is he playing the field? Is this a love triangle? Well, this scene is out of context because she's actually just trying to borrow his luck for a fight, but a connection between these two is a very real thing which comes to a head during Inferno (kind of).
With this being a pretty Colossus heavy arc, I felt it was appropriate to reflect on a Marvel Age interview with Marc Silvestri I read recently highlighting his thoughts on Colossus:
"Colossus is always a lot of fun. Any time you have to draw a big bruiser like that, you know you’re going to have a good time. There’s a lot of broad action with him because of his strength and size. You can have people flying all over the place, crashing through walls and windows, and that’s always a lot of fun.
When I have to do a scene with Colossus, I’m in a good mood that day. His armored body is also visually striking. It works well in a color comic to have this chrome-plated giant running around with these giant fists and pounding the bad guys. It’ a lot of fun."
My Rating - 6/10
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