Monday, 4 July 2011

UXM #31: "We Must Destroy... The Cobalt Man!"

(Capable of turning everything in a five-mile radius into a shade of desaturated blue...)


Ah, simpler times.  Back then, "I'd soon turn into a walking c-bomb!" means becoming some kind of dangerous weapon.  Of course, if the suit does have the effect of turning you into an ambulatory cunt, it seems to have affected Ralph roughly 118 minutes too quickly.

I am desperately trying to not make a joke about how unerringly Hank manages to find Iceman's pole, and the fact that Iceman is worried about not being able to get it up on time is making it tougher still.

But even if I'm not going to make any cheap wise-cracks, I have to ask: why are Zelda and Vera still going out with the two of them?  If I saw them constantly abruptly end double dates to head home together, I know what conclusion I'd come to: that maybe the internal network wasn't exactly as advertised.


Maybe that's why they keep going to see that shitty beat poet, Bernard.  Easier to believe your date bailed because he couldn't stand that sub-Kerouac bollocks than it is to accept that he's heading off to search for Iceman's pole again (DAMMIT!)

Actually, there's a lot to love in this issue, especially considering how limp much of Thomas' era to date has been.  I'm not totally sold (to put it mildly) on the idea of Xavier trying to fix Jean and Scott up [1], but at least it moves us on, and seeing Scott and Warren bury the hatchet and decide to actually tell Jean how they feel is a long-overdue development.  Admittedly, it doesn't pan out, but then that's the way it goes sometimes, you spend all your time screwing your courage to the sticking place, only to find the object of your affections has been busy moving on.

There's some nice work in moving the plot along, too.  The locked door in the basement, whilst still seeming a little too obvious, is gathering importance and mystery.  Just what is Xavier hiding in their, and what does it have to do with his private experiments?

Also, it's a small detail, but it's nice to see someone finally using their brains, with Ted being smart enough to work out the disappearance of Scott and Jean and the arrival of Cyclops and Marvel Girl (whose voice and figure he presumably knows quite well by now) probably aren't independent events.

Lastly, there's probably my favourite scene with Hank so far in this issue (those of you who've waded through my X-Men essays on the other blog will know he's my personal choice for best X-Man ever).  It's only two panels long, but it's very telling: Hank admits to himself that his extensive vocabulary is just a way to hide his discomfort with the way he looks, but is also aware that in doing so he's creating a persona that might actually swallow his own personality whole.  It's a lovely, sad scene, and makes a wonderful change to the constant melodrama over Scott's eyes and (to a lesser extent) Xavier's legs.


This issue takes place over a single evening.

Iceman states that today is Friday, and the Professor notes that the team has acquitted itself well against Banshee and Ogre, the Super-Adaptoid, and the Warlock "in recent weeks".  It would make more sense if he'd said "in recent months", but this is a Thomas script, so we should just be grateful he didn't say "in the last ten minutes." 

In any case, the earliest we can put this issue is the second weekend in December so that's what we'll do.  Helpfully, the one image of trees in the issue show them stripped of leaves. Iceman also tells Bernard to "come back next winter", but given he just froze the poet's espresso, it may have just been one of the jokes for which Iceman is so rightly famed.

One of the "watusi-ing teeny-boppers" in the Monkey's Paw mentions that "I'm A Believer" has only been out for "several months", which would put us in 1966 (surprise).  We can easily assume though that it's a cover (Neil Diamond released a version that year, for example),  or that our checked-trousers wearing "Clyde" is simply smacked off his tits.  It does at least confirm that the X-Men stories can't be taking place in the near past, though.


Friday 11th of December, 1979.



Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 2.11 standard years.

(Iceman is 38 years old.)

"Er, you'll have to pardon our dust,
gals, but, Hank and I gotta split!"
Contemporary Events

The last day of the Fourth Republic of South Korea (a coup d'etat takes place the following day).

Standout Line

"Alas, as usual, the multi-talented Beast merits no special approbation!"  Poor Hank.  His inability to receive anything approaching a compliment on his regular displays of physical and mental prowess is becoming a running joke.  I wonder if he's planning on just packing it all in and becoming a wrestler again.

[1] At best, I'd have thought he'd be neutral on the matter, and since a) a relationship between two people repeatedly thrust into harm's way is probably dangerous, and b) now that Jean is at college and Xavier can walk again, he can finally put the moves on the girl he once loved, I'm not sure why he'd be too keen on pushing Scott her way.

(Actually, I've never thought about this before, but it suddenly occurs to me that Jean Grey looks quite a lot like Xavier's former love, Amelia Voght.  Of course, where comics are concerned, "looks quite a lot like" is basically short-hand for "same sex, same race, same hair colour", so take the similarity how you will.)

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