Sunday, 24 July 2011

UXM #51: "The Devil Had A Daughter!"

("Oh Romeo, Romeo!  Wherefore art thou a chauvinistic prick?")


Holy giant space cow!  It's the X-Men do Shakespeare!

No, really.  This is Romeo and Juliet, pretty much.  Polaris is Juliet, and Magneto is both Capulet and Tybalt; he's invoking his patriachal authority and he's spoiling for a fight.

Iceman is Romeo, of course, so blinded by love he's willing to beat down anyone fool enough to stand in his way.  Cyclops is Mercutio, unwilling to fight but prepared to defend his closest friend.  That's why he throws the first punch - once he realises Iceman won't back down, there's no option but to fight to keep the love-blind idiot alive.

This gives Angel the Benvolio role, of course - he talks a good fight but ends up doing sod all.  Given how many gay jokes I've made about Bobby and Hank, I don't really have much choice but to make Beast into Balthasar.

Jean Grey is, er, Mrs Mercutio.  Or Queen Mab, I suppose.  She's certainly done a number on Mercutio, am I right?

That makes the opening scene of the comic the run-up to Tybalt and Romeo's duel, only with Romeo as much an instigator as Tybalt ("A plague on both your houses!", indeed).  The major differences: most of the Montagu clan is on hand to help out, the duel takes ten pages instead of a few lines of stage directions and questionable puns, no-one dies, and it's a bit rubbish rather than one of the greatest plays ever written. [1]

It also doesn't really sit well with 20th Century sensibility, even with - I'd hope - the conventional wisdom of 1968.  Of all the people in the room, it's somehow Magneto who actually bothers to ask Polaris what it is she wants.  Everyone else is to busy arguing whether or not it's fist o'clock (turns out: it is).  Indeed, Beast - motherfucking Beast - concludes that Polaris can't possibly refuse Magneto, due to her "familial duty and... inner need for power!"  Because God knows, no woman can refuse her father when power is involved.  That's... kind of uncomfortable to think about.

As an aside, the dialogue in this issue is really weirdly apportioned to the speech bubbles.  There's an art to splitting up speech, as even Steven and I have learned, you can't just do it at random.  Otherwise you get this kind of thing: 
I've had it up to here with a guy who'd even...

...con his own kid into joining his pillage and plunder act!
See what I mean?  It just doesn't...

... work.  Maybe if had been iambic pentameter, I guess...


This issue takes place over a single day, with the exception of the last page, which takes place several days later.


Sunday 11th to Friday 16th May, 1980.


X+772 to X+777.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 2.47 standard years.

(Iceman is 35 years old.)

"You -- you're chicken!"

Contemporary Events

An F-2 tornado hits Michigan, leading to President Carter declaring it a federal disaster area.

Hugh Griffith, who one an Oscar for his portrayal of Sheik Ilderim in Ben Hur, dies aged 67.

Standout Line

"But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she."

No, wait.  Wrong one.  Erm...

"...I need this icy protection against a warm hunk of girl like you!"

That's better.

[1] Well, so popular opinion would have it.  I always thought my friend Bronwyn had a point when she described it as "Too self-absorbed children who kill themselves before they have time to figure out that they're both bloody idiots".  She also has been known to point out "It's basically a story about a teenager who persuades a young girl that death is more attractive than finishing puberty".

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