X-Men Volume 1 # 101 - 103 (May '76 - Nov '76)
Published in 1976, Banshee takes the team to his ancestral home (Cassidy Keep) in Ireland while Scott stays with Jean at the hospital. The remaining team face their first of many battles with the Juggernaut and Black Tom Cassidy.
#101 - 103: Cassidy Keep
Writer - Chris Claremont
Pencils - Dave Cockrum
This begins with Jean in the hospital and the team is unsure whether or not she'll pull through. They get good news that she will be ok (or will she?) but Scott can't handle the emotions. (The mustache man jumping is actually Nightcrawler using Tony Stark's image inducer to look normal while he's in the hospital).
The rest of the X-Men take a vacation at Banshee's childhood home, Cassidy Keep.
It doesn't take long before their vacation is interrupted by Banshee's cousin Black Tom and his new best friend, the Juggernaut. I had never heard of Black Tom but I get the feeling he is going to be an ongoing threat in the series (we'll see!)
The X-Men fight both supervillains, with special attention on Banshee fighting his cousin. Eventually the X-Men win and they both run away.
In this arc we also see a brand new ability show up for my favorite X-man, Nightcrawler. He can blend into shadows!
Also, he is later saved by leperchauns. Yes, leperchauns. Little leperchauns showed up and saved him.
I love how the end of this arc shows Storm taking matters into her own hands and blowing a hole in the castle, thus giving her some air and access to the weather. This is the turning point of the battle!
My Connections and Creators
Well, it can't all be great. Claremont and Cockrum keep powering on, but this is a rather forgettable story. Scott stays by Jean's side in the hospital as the rest of the team travels to Banshee's home at Cassidy keep for some R & R. What could go wrong? Longtime X-Men villain Juggernaut shows up alongside his soon to be long time partner and cousin of Banshee, Black Tom Cassidy.
Leperchauns pop up and save Nightcrawler in this issue. I've got to be honest, I'm just not a big fan of creatures popping up out of the blue that clearly exist in other mainstream media. I'm looking at you Elves, Dracula, Sasquatch, Satan, and Gods from well known mythologies.
With Cyclops out of the way, this marks the emergence of Storm as the team's leader and we learn more about what makes her tick. Storm is cowering in the corner at the beginning of the fight due to her claustrophobia. This has been referenced a bunch but here we finally get the full story.
Storm lived with her parents in Cairo (her dad was American) until one day a war was being fought and a plane crashed into her home, killing both her parents and trapping her under rubble (hence the paralyzing claustrophobia).
She spends years as a street urchin and master pick pocket until one day she makes a long trek to Kenya where she lives as the weather Goddess until we see Charles find her in Giant Size X-Men # 1.
Storm is a character who draws strength from her empathy. She has been through this terrible ordeal (watching her parents perish, being trapped under rubble, growing up an orphan) but instead of twisting her down the wrong path, it has given her the superhuman ability to understand other's pain. She cares deeply about others as we see with her budding friendship with Wolverine, her future mentorship of Kitty, and even benevolence towards her enemies. She channels her own pain and shoulders the pain of those she both loves and pities.
Storms empathetic approach contrasts clearly with her teammates. Wolverine, for instance, has no hesitancy when it comes to taking a life, however in his mind he takes on the internal torment of being a killer as a mercy to his teammates to both keep them alive, but also to save them from needing to feel that anguish themselves. It's Storm's ability to show her personal vulnerability, while also focusing on removing other's pain, that puts her in a position as the obvious leader of the team.
As Storm moves into position as the new team leader, Cyclops continues to deal with grief. We saw him take it very hard when Thunderbird died, and now he is having trouble leaving Jean's side.
We see him argue with Professor X after being ordered to Ireland to help the team against Juggs and Black Tom. This is another step in the direction of Cyclops showing his independence from Professor X. In the Silver Age, he was young and acting as a pawn, but here he presents as an adult who controls his own destiny.
Some other quick hitting character updates. Nightcrawler gets a new power with the ability to blend into shadows. Wolverine's name is revealed to be Logan and his claws are name dropped as adamantium. Colossus throws Wolverine over a castle wall when he calls Storm a "broad," furthering his "gentle heart" characterization. This arc is Claremont's attempt to get us warmer towards Banshee (it fails for me), but we do get introduced to a very iconic X-Men villain with staying power, Black Tom Cassidy. The bromance (and possible romance) between Black Tom and Juggernaut is something that I'll be tracking as I progress through the journey.
My Rating and Review - 5/10
Not every Claremont story is gold. It was hard to read this without the word FILLER being shouted in my mind. I would have rated it lower, but we got some fantastic character development with made the story worth telling.
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