Sunday, 17 July 2011
UXM #44: "Red Raven, Red Raven...!"
(For the love of God, why?)
At long last! This issue marks the end of Roy Thomas' reign (Friedrich wrote the script for this one, but it's Thomas at the helm). Truly it was an era of mediocrity. Not to mention time-wasting. If Roy Thomas was a female footballer, even the Brazilians would think he was milking it.
Let's look at the board, shall we? Stan Lee penned 19 issues that took place over seven months, from the X-Men's point of view. Roy Thomas penned 25 issues that took place over seventeen months. That's a truly miserable compression constant of 1.47 standard months to every Marvel month! And it would have been even worse than that if the Factor Three story (and its later references) hadn't allowed me to ignore Thomas' increasingly ludicrous attempts to tie his storylines into real-time events.
It's safe to say this was not one of my favourite eras for the comic, even when taking into account the time in which it was written. Goodbye, Roy Thomas: we hardly liked ya.
It would be nice if I could at least say that Thomas went out on a high, but that would be a lie. In fairness, messy handovers are very common in comics, so I'm prepared to cut it at least some slack. It's still unrelentingly stupid, though. We start where we left the action in issue #43, with Magneto towering over our fallen heroes. Initially he plans to kill them, but then Quicksilver - the same Quicksilver who only last issue Magneto promised to punish and then didn't for no reason at all - objects.
Magneto then flies into a rage, immediately reverses course ("I must have time to savor the sweet nectar of victory!") and puts the X-Men in the individualised prisons he had already built for them. Why were they there if the plan was to kill the X-Men as soon as super-humanly possible? How are we supposed to take Magneto seriously if Quicksilver can say or do anything and without him doing more than bellow and bluster? Why does Magneto change his mind again when Toad notes the X-Men have been arguing with Quicksilver? Why doesn't he do anything about it?
(Also, why the hell is there a cutting torch lying around the X-Men's cell? I'm guessing it's been planted there, probably by Scarlet Witch; we'll have to wait and see).
Once we get past all of this lunacy, Angel manages to escape Isla de Magneto and head for help (specifically the Avengers, who Angel is very chuffed about thinking of, despite the fact Cyclops had already ordered him to find them), and then things somehow conspire to become more stupid. Angel takes shelter from the storm on a tiny atoll that then becomes an island, and he decides he'll go exploring because, quote "...Magneto wants us to join him! He won't harm the others for a while!" You know what might have changed his mind on that, Warren? The fact you've escaped!
At that point, he really deserves getting a beating from Red Raven, one of the self-described "supreme race of birdmen!" (not so supreme that you're not functionally extinct, Tweety!). That fight lasts for all of two pages before Raven decides he can trust Angel ("I can sense that you also are different from ordinary humans!") and starts laying out the specifics of his secret and sacred duty.
WHAT THE FUCK? If you're the sole hope of reviving your race, what could possibly possess you to spill the beans to a guy who a) you met three minutes ago, and b) spent two minutes and fifty-five seconds of that trying to punch you in the face? Hell, whilst we're on the subject, why not take the simple but effective security precaution of locking your front door?
Of course, this is a man who took twenty-one years to realise he wasn't actually born one of Superioraceofbirdmen, despite the fact that he hasn't got any sodding wings!
The whole thing is one long, stupefying explosion of plot and character logic filmed in slow-motion by a swine-flu afflicted David Lynch . Only without even any hot lesbians.
This issue picks up directly from the last one.
We learn something from the back-up strip this issue - Iceman first came to Xavier's attention in 1963, during late autumn or early winter. Since the first issue of The X-Men was published in September '63, this winter is presumably meant to be January or Febuary of that year. That means the birthday cake Xavier unveiled way back in issue #4 must indeed represent a year since Cyclops first joined him.
We'll have to fiddle with these ideas to fit them into our timeline, but we put the beginning pages of issue #4 as taking place on the twenty-third of April, 1978, we'll put that day in 1977 as being the day Scott and Xavier did battle against Jack of Diamonds, and have them discover Bobby Drake in October of that same year.
Tuesday 22nd April, 1980.
1 Marvel year = 2.26 standard years.
(Iceman is 37 years old.)
Canada announces it will boycott the Moscow Olympics, following the USSR invasion of Afghanistan.
"But, since I know now I can lick your weight in hobbits any day..." I... what? Just... what?
 Eat my timely sporting reference! EAT IT!