Saturday, 25 June 2011

UXM #22: "Divided -- We Fall!"

("Mr and Mrs... Armoured Personnel Carrier.  Interesting choice of alias, there.")


My new office mate has gone on record as believing the worst Marvel supervillain of all time to be the admittedly ridiculous Stilt-Man, who Wikipedia argues (in a nice display of understatement) "did not age well, as his powers were more a curiosity than a real threat".
Stilt-Man in "action"

I reckon Uncanny X-Men #22 could give him a run for his money (though obviously he prefers to get his money by standing up reeaaaaaaally high).  The Unicorn and the Eel are more bad names than bad concepts (energy casting is a fairly unimaginative power, but at least it'll never go out of style), but Plantman and the Scarecrow (controlling plants and crows, respectively) are terrible ideas.  So much so that they have to set up their ambush in Central Park just so as they can be sure there's enough greenery and birds around to be any use at all.  Thank God their plan "aroused" Jean Grey's "feminine curiosity". [1]

As for the Porcupine - well, actually, I quite like the Porcupine, mainly because you have to give a man credit for covering a battle-suit with hundreds of very thin guns - with varied effects and ammunition types - and then stands back and thinks to himself "That looks a bit like a porcupine, I'd better start wearing a pig mask".  That's some quality supervillain mentalness, right there.

This ridiculous collection of super-powered has-beens (even Cyclops points out that this feels like "Homecoming Week for obscure super-villains": another example of Thomas' scripts pointing out his own story-crafting limitiations) is really just a side-show (metaphorically and literally) for what's really the focus of the issue, the interactions between the team.  It's interesting to see the issue start with Xavier demonstrating the importance of pulling together as a team, given the instant they get some free time (another vacation: will the Professor never learn?) they split up, and are easily taken down by the Maggia as a result.

On the other hand, if they never get to spend time away from the group, how are Bobby and Hank ever going to "share" a hotel room?  Under an alias, no less (even if "Bobby Blake" is an even worse fake identity than "Drake Roberts", which he used when spying on Graydon Creed at the end of the 90s).  Hank even mistakes a man for his girlfriend, which I think is pretty telling. [2]

Man, I wish Marvel had pushed this, as unthinkable as it would have been in the '60s (and arguably today).  Certainly it's more fun than the developing love-triangle between Scott, Jean and Warren, which is just endless iterations of Cyclops and Jean moping and Warren trying to get some T&A.


This issue takes place over two days.

Well, we're certainly on the other side of winter now.  If all the greenery in Central Park wasn't evidence enough, the truly chilling, not-at-all-shit powers of the mighty Plant Man make that plain.  I guess the X-Men had a quiet Christmas, especially since Xavier was apparently busy slapping together the world's gayest robot. [3]

Slightly less imposing than Eric Cartman in two cardboard boxes.
So, let's skip over the colder months, and set this at the end of March, 1979.  That makes it exactly a year since Jean joined the X-Men in comic time, a little under three years of real time.  I'm worried this is going to become a recurring problem - having to squeeze in as much as possible into late spring through to mid autumn, and then skipping winter.  Mind you, as I've mentioned before, it's just as possible that we're going to end up with too many winters once the dreaded Xmas issues start showing up.  It's all dreadfully concerning, obviously.

It has led me to include a new statistic, however.  From this post on, I will give the estimated age of Iceman (the only X-Man whose age we know from pretty much the first issue) in current issues of Uncanny X-Men, based on the compression constant.  For some reason, that strikes me as an appropriate yard-stick.


Saturday 31st of March to Sunday 1st of April, 1979.


X+365 to X+366.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 2.82 standard years

(Iceman is 32 years old)

"I'm putting that power horn of yours in cold storage!"

Contemporary Events

The Shah is officially overthrown as Iran becomes a Republic.

Standout Line

Man, this is too hard.  The whole issue is packed with unintentionally hilarious lines, starting with "We've licked robots before..." and continuing from there.  I'm not really sure what a writer can do with a character called "the Unicorn", but I'd humbly suggest having him shout "Taste the irresistible might of my power horn!" isn't really going to help.

Ultimately, though, I think I'm going to plump for "But soon the world will remember the name of the Plantman -- and cringe at its merest mention!" Yeah.  Yeah, I think that's about right.

[1] Presumably feminine curiosity centres around whether mankind will ever make a pony that can fly, whereas masculine curiosity involves speculation on whether Christina Hendricks tits are real.

[2] I'd assumed Waldo the rock star (who Hank mistakes for Zelda, because no-one ever looks at anything but hair and glasses when searching for their girlfriend) was a reference to a real person, but apparently not.

[3] At least it kept him from moping; as soon as his students leave Xavier gets embarassingly emo.  "They can walk in the sunshine--feel the wind striking their faces-- while am confined to this wheelchair -- a hopeless cripple!"  Newsflash, Professor, sunshine and wind is shit you can access sitting down.

No comments:

Post a Comment