UXM # 251 - 258 (July '89 - February 1990)
Wolverine and the Reavers
Issue # 251 opens with Wolverine on this X cross, being left out in the heat as part of the Reavers torturing him.
Here the Reavers officially show up to chastise and torture Wolverine.
A giant storm starts and the Reavers need to hide inside. I'm not sure if that is baby Storm's doing, but I assume that it is. Jubilee comes out of her hiding spot and Wolverine signals as if he knew she was there the whole time. She helps him get into hiding.
When Donald Pierce finds Wolverine gone, he's furious. We also see him threaten and then make out with Lady Deathstrike, so I guess they are lovers.
Jubilee takes Wolvie back to her hideout and nurses him back to health. We get clues that his healing factor is not working as well as it should be. I feel like I should know what may have caused that, but I really don't know.
We also see that while Logan is recovering, he's hallucinating the personalities of Nick Fury and Carol Danvers. These two personalities actually manifest themselves consistently, at least up until my current reading (Issue #267). With Rogue stuck in the Siege Perilous, we get our dose of dissociate identity disorder here and we even still get some Carol.
We see that part of what makes Pierce so indisposable is that he is the one who built the original Reavers and is the one who repairs them when things go wrong.
Lady Deathstrike actually finds Wolverine and sees him limping away with Jubilee but she lets him go out of honor. She doesn't want to kill her enemy like that, so she lets him get away to defeat him more honorably in the future.
Polaris sends out an SOS to Muir Island as her boat is sinking and she's saved by Banshee. Let's talk about this for a second. Apparently Banshee got his powers back in Marvel Comics Presents # 24. That issue isn't on Marvel Unlimited and I don't plan on buying it so I'll just need to take the internet's word for it. This is pretty cool. I didn't really like Banshee, but I've had years without him so I'm down for a little resurgence.
Remember Amanda Sefton? Nightcrawler's girlfriend/sister who was a sorceress? Well we're bringing back all the B listers for this party.
Forge is going from the B list to permanently join the A list. Here he is having a dream or vision and Ahmoud Farouk, the Shadow King crashes the party. The Reavers, Nimrod, Freedom Force, etc are all "bad guys" but the Shadow King is definitely the Big Bad getting a very long gestating set up.
Polaris is now on Muir Island with the rest of the gang. We also see Moira who is wearing a mini skirt and trying to pull off her best White Queen impression. This continues for a while and more and more characters start to take note. I'm not sure yet, but I think it might be the Shadow King's doing. Either that or she's going through her own Storm punk phase.
Moira also ran some tests on Polaris. It appears as though her magnetic powers are now latent, kind of like Storm's were when she lost her powers. So basically she will get them back one day, but for now it makes her interesting to have different powers. I'm still a little confused apparently she's absorbing energy or something making her strong. Something like that.
The Reavers are out looking for Wolverine and deduce that Muir Island is a likely spot for him to go. They start an all out assault on Muir Island, leading off with a sniper shot on Banshee that doesn't look too good.
We are legitimately getting all of the B listers to bring them to prominence. We've got Allison Stuart, the Brigadier General from the World Happenings Organization. She usually only appears in Excalibur so I'm not sure why she's being brought here. Maybe because they are both in the British Isles? We also see good old Tom Corsi and Sharon Friedland.
Amanda Sefton casts a skill to change their costumes and it backfires, putting them all in S&M gear. I'm not really sure what the point of this is. Also, look how giant Polaris looks.
Sunder and Legion are fighting off the Reavers so that the Morlock kids can escape. Sunder calls Legion Danny, but his name is David Haller. Come one, didn't you guys watch Legion the TV show!? Speaking of the TV show, Legion purposely drops his shield causing Sunder to take some gunfire. Legion is DEFINITELY being influenced by the Shadow King, just like he was in the show.
Polaris and Legion are fighting the Reavers...and losing.
At this point we check in with Freedom Force. Destiny has a complicated vision, but one thing is clear, She is going to die.
So let's talk about something here. Destiny and Mystique live together. They are talking about facing things together. It's pretty obvious they are a couple. I have actually seen a lot of recent chatter (back in 2019) talking about how big of a deal it was that these two were officially identifies as lovers. I just want to say that this doesn't even look questionable here, it seems pretty clear. I give a lot of credit to Claremont for being ahead of his time. Lots of multi-cultural representation. Various Sexual representation. More strong female characters than males.
Also, this is making me realize that Mystique must be pretty old. It's hard to tell with her blue skin and ability to shapeshift, but with having two adult kids (Rogue and I'm assuming Nightcrawler) and dating an older lady, she must be pretty old herself.
The Reavers actually win and take the Muir Island Active Reserves captive.
Val Cooper is asking Freedom Force to work with Forge and to rescue Muir Island. Mystique still doesn't want to work with Forge because she blames him for Rogue's death.
R.I.P. Sunder. Pretty boy shoots him in the back. I looked it up and he doesn't appear in comics after this so he's truly dead. Poor guy. We barely knew you.
When I first saw this, I had no idea what I was looking at.
Lol, it was Blob falling from the sky.
Lady Deathstrike lands on the plane carrying the rest of F.F. and forces it to the ground.
Lady Deathstrike slices open Avalanche. This doesn't kill him, but he'll be down for a while.
Destiny encourages the rest of the team to head out, knowing from her vision that Legion was coming to kill them. She saves everyone else but sacrifices herself. Dude, Legion definitely kills her. Wow.
Another one bites the dust as Donald Pierce kills Stonewall! Legion is smirking off in the distance so it's unclear if he had a role in it too, but he may have. But Stonewall is definitely dead and will stay dead. This makes me wonder if someone thought Freedom Force had too many people in it. 2 members die this issue and a third (Avalanche) is downed.
It's mentioned in a panel I didn't feature that Spiral is off on another mission.
Mystique seems less upset about Destiny's death than she was about Rogue's. Obviously, she is distrought, but in my head cannon she knew from their chat at breakfast. Also, now she's doubly pissed at Forge.
Forge and Banshee start a new bromance. They'll be featured prominently for the foreseeable future. I like that these two characters are giving a chance to move into the spotlight.
It does bother me though that other people (like X-Factor) continue to call them "Banshee and Forge from the X-Men." Like, why? First, the X-Men are dead. Second, why do they feel like they are in "the X-Men?" Banshee has the best case because he used to be one, but it's been a long time. He hadn't been interacting with them even when he thought they were alive. And Forge was definitely not an X-Man. Storm loves him, but the rest get kind of pissy with him because he stole her powers.
A few things to point out here.
First of all, Moira sent Callisto to lock down the X-Mansion basement and she hasn't heard back from her in a while. We'll check in with Callisto later to see what happened to her.
Second, Banshee makes his first comment about noticing that something is wrong with Moira.
Third, these two will start by heading to the mansion to find the X-Men and they will run into Jean Grey. I know that's not featured here, but the X-Teams really start to get more fluid with the real X-Men disbanded, B list characters running around more prominently, and the other teams popping in left and right. It's all setup for all these fools to come back together as a single X-Men soon during the re-boot, which I can't wait for and I think it's super cool seeing it come together.
Legion does something to Polaris. Not sure what.
Oh, Storm isn't dead. Shocker! But she is de-aged. What are we thinking Claremont! Just let her be! I know how this happened but it isn't revealed in these issues so I'll keep my mouth shut.
Baby Storm isn't showing up on monitors.
The blue haired doctor is Doctor Shen. We'll see a lot of her. This other guy who is agreeing to "help" find Storm is mind controlled by the Shadow King (the Big Bad!) Apparently the Shadow King has a grudge against Storm for that one time she pickpocketed him as a child...or something? Or maybe it's because she helped to foil his plans with Karma? It's not clear. Maybe both.
Baby Storm escapes and Dr. Shen is taken over as well.
We're introduced to Matsuyo Tsurayaba. He finds Psylocke, the first to exit the Siege Perilous without any memories. He plans to recruit her for the ninja assassin group, the Hand. Notice she is still in a British body.
Matsuo pledges the Hand to the Mandarin.
Psylocke spends all of Issue #255 being brainwashed in a sensory deprivation chamber, attacked by a telepath. She spends the entire issue dreaming, as we see her think a lot about her brother.
I'm really disappointed that there isn't more here, but Mojo and Spiral show up briefly in her dream, showing us that they are responsible for changing her body. I would have liked to see more about Kwannon, ninja who's body she stole. Regardless, Psylocke now looks like the character I grew up with, so that's awesome! All the pieces are falling into place!
Psylocke is sent on missions to attack the Mandarin's enemies. Moving forward, she will not only be a telepath, but a badass ninja with a psychic knife.
Wolverine and Jubilee set out to save Psylocke. Now you're probably thinking to yourself "wow, Wolverine looks really great here." Well guess what, Jim Lee is on this issue. If you find yourself noticing that the art looks shockingly better than anything we've seen for 200+ issues, that's why.
Wolverine recognizes Psylocke and out of all the things he could say, he chooses the one thing that doesn't make sense..."The Face." He could've commented on her scent or voice or mannerisms...but no. He recognizes her by her face, which is not her face, it's a new face. She then plunges her psychic knife into his brain making this the second time today that he is captured.
More cool art? Jim Lee. The Mandarin is trying to brainwash Wolverine now like they did to Psylocke. Psylocke also starts popping into this mind.
Carol and Nick still hanging around, now talking to Psylocke.
Wolverine regains consciousness and breaks the tank.
Jubilee thinks all is lost and she explodes with power.
When Psylocke started poking in Logan's mind, she woke up herself. Now her and Logan turn on the Mandarin.
Do you feel lucky, pal?
Woah, this era is trippy. There's literally no X-Men team at the moment. This blog won't even be broken down by issues, instead there are 6 or 7 disparate stories that we'll be tracking. Let's talk about some of what we're going to get into.
The first two issues (251-252) are primarily focused on Wolverine being tortured by the Reavers and Jubilee saving him. This is the start of these two pairing off, which will last for quite some time. I would assume that this duo is the result of the Wolverine/Kitty relationship going so well. Jubilee officially joins the team, donning her trademark outfit. This earned her the green box around her picture in my Roster Watch, but there isn't technically a team right now so it only half counts.
The last 3 issues (255 - 258) are primarily focused on Psylocke. This is the story arc where she was transformed from her British body to that of a hot asian assasin. I assumed this was going to be a story about Kwannon, the mutant who's body Betsy stole, and how Mojo and Spiral made this body switch happen. In reality, it's not about that at all. I'm still unclear how this happened, other than a few brief panels where Mojo and Spiral appear in a dream bringing her to the Body Shoppe. Regardless, we do get to see Psylocke in her new look and she'll be broken off with Wolverine and Jubilee for the foreseeable future.
We also get baby storm. I'm gonna be honest, I think this is dumb. Storm went punk. Storm lost her powers. Storm gets de-aged into a young girl. Why can't Storm ever just be Storm? I can't wait until the 90's re-boot when she looks cool, has her powers, and is the appropriate age!
We get a little side action with Magneto and the Morlocks, but the main storyline is actually what's happening at Muir Island. My guess is that Claremont decided to take a break from the main team and focus on all of the peripheral characters. So we get a lot of Moira, Callisto, Banshee, Forge, Sunder, Amanda Sefton, Tom Corsi, Sharon Friedland, Brigadier Allison Stuart, Polaris, and Legion.
I never really knew that Callisto was featured so strongly, but it looks as though she is going to continue to get a lot of attention as she has a side story running in the background of these issues that will continue into my next blog as well. Polaris seems to be put front and center and we know she will eventually go on to help lead the new iteration of X-Factor. Banshee and Forge develop a bromance and from this point forward will be galavanting around claiming they are X-Men and looking for the rest of the team. Moira is acting strange. Legion appears to be somewhat evil, so that's cool. Tom and Sharon continue existing and I give Claremont credit for not completely forgetting they are around. It really looked like Amanda Sefton was going to be featured again as more than just Nightcrawler's girlfriend, but I haven't seen her since these issues so this might have been a false start. Sunder dies in this issue and while I think the death sticks, I'm skeptical because we also saw him get his leg amputated during the mutant massacre yet he's running around with two legs in this issue.
But still, we have Jubilee, hot Psylocke, and a focus on peripheral characters. That's all a win for me! Come to think of it, other than Rogue, I'm not really missing Colossus, Longshot, Havok, or Dazzler.
In the documentary "Claremont's X-Men," Claremont mentions:
"How do we keep these long-term readers excited and intrigued and eager to find out what happens next? There has to be an evolution of these characters."
He takes it further by saying:
"To me, it’s all one story, because life is a story. I’m not writing superhero adventures, I’m telling a story of these character lives."
I feel somewhat conflicted on this point. On one hand, I agree that new things need to happen to the characters or else things could grow stale. On the other hand, this Disbanded X-Men concept is a prime example of how that can go very, very wrong. I've talked about how 1989 is a year where things went the wrong direction. In X-Factor, the team went off planet for wayyyyy too long and that, in addition to the story being bad, it gets difficult to be away from the comfortable setting (in that case, earth) for too long. Here I feel like this story has more to do with Claremont getting bored (after writing the X-Men for 15 years) than it does with taking the characters in natural directions.
Callisto is intercepted by Masque. Masque has always been an asshole, but now he's been elevated to at least a B tier villain. He has a group of Morlocks following him and it makes me think that more escaped Mutant Massacre than originally led on.
Masque really wants to get into the X-Men basement too. Surprisingly, it will be Cable who actually gets in. But we're not there yet!
Moira is totally calling out Magneto for turning his back on the new Mutants. I don't think that happened because of a preference to focus on the Hellfire Club as Moira is suggesting. It's more like he didn't know how to deal with kids, but I believe that his heart was in it. More importantly, I believe that Claremont intended for it to be genuine.
I'm also always going to pay closer attention when Moira is dealing with an important character due to her increased importance in Hickman's HoxPox. I know it's a retcon, but it's fun to go back and analyze. This scene checks out as Magneto knows of Moira's higher purpose and she is calling him out for not rising to the occasion.
So, I really like this. Magneto is being depicted as an all out villain again in other comics. This is basically a defense of Magneto. He's being held to a higher standard and accepting his failures. At the end, he's basically saying that if he acts as a villain the target will stay on his back and off of everyone else's. This might seem like a cop out to some, but I like it a lot.
My Rating - 7/10
Next up we'll check in with X-Factor as they have run ins with Sabretooth, Caliban, Mesmero. Also, there is a proposal!
Previous Post - 63: New Mutants # 77-80, 81 - 86 (Asgard Again)