Monday, 18 July 2011

UXM #45: "When Mutants Clash!"

(That should be "sense-shattering", surely?)


This issue is actually the first half of a two-part story that concludes in Avengers #53.  Well, really it's the third part of an X-Men storyline that concludes in Avengers #53 - which is a pretty shitty way to treat your readers - but either way it means I thought it a good idea to read the aforementioned Avengers issue immediately after, even if it isn't part of our study.

It's a good job I did, since not only does the story end there (with Toad finally getting pissed off enough to abandon Magneto, and Mags himself falling into the Atlantic and presumed drowned), but it offers a few words of explanation as well. It turns out the disintegrator ray left beside Angel's cage was deliberately put there to allow him to escape.  That's nice to hear, at least, since it retrospectively makes issue #44 look a little less terrible, and that book can use all the help it can get.

After that, though, everything gets ridiculous again.  Magneto boasts that he deliberately placed a homing tracker on Angel so as to arouse suspicion amongst the Avengers.  But why assume Angel would head for the Avengers at all?  It's hundreds of miles to Avenger's mansion (see below); is it really a slam-dunk to conclude that's who he'll ask for help?

On top of that, whilst Magneto's plan to hypnotise the X-Men into attacking the Avengers is pretty cool (a bit over-elaborate, but certainly fun to watch), he laments the fact that Angel escaped too soon for the conditioning to take hold.  So why let him escape so soon?   Why not hypnotise Angel first, then send him out without a homing beacon at all?  Or even get the X-Men to call the Avengers by telephone?  And why start torturing Toad because Cyclops escaped, which is pretty much exactly what Magneto wants?

I suppose the answer to that last one might be that Magneto didn't want Cyclops running around until Magneto had had chance to get his hypno-beam or whatever working.  Indeed, the whole plan might not have worked at all if when Cyclops bumped into the Avengers immediately after they arrived (before Magneto activated the X-Men's post-hypnotic suggestions), he hadn't chosen to be a thoroughly petulant prick.

(Mind you, if this issue is anything to go by, attacking people because they ask him to stand still for a minute is very much what Cyclops does.  "[N]o-one tells Cyclops to halt--", "[N]obody tells an X-Man what to do!"; it's a master-class in aggressive childish preening.)

By that point we're in Avengers #53, which makes it all Roy Thomas' fault (again), but the only thing more irritating than watching one superhero pick a fight for absolutely no reason is for that superhero to then flee the battle he initiated, asking himself "Why did they treat me like an enemy... WHY??

One interesting development amongst the chaos: the conversation Quicksilver has with Cyclops (once the latter has stopped trying to chop Quicksilver into chum on general principle).  Not only is it another example of pre-Claremont argument on how mutants should treat humans (which once again takes baby steps towards developing an honest-to-God theme), but the idea of Cyclops angrily rejecting the idea of a mutants-only island where homo superior can exist away from the press of humanity is brilliantly ironic, even if it took 40 years for that to become apparent.

Once again, the issue ends with a back-up strip about the X-Men's formation.  We're still following the events that led to Iceman signing up.  This is a deeply strange story, actually.  Iceman is arrested, basically for walking whilst mutated, but decides to sit and wait for charges to be pressed so he can clear his name in court.

Cyclops, though, has decided that the law of the land can't be trusted, and so breaks into Iceman's cell and, when Bobby refuses to leave, actually tries to knock him unconscious so that he can be dragged to freedom!

That, to me, sounds an awful lot like something an X-Man villian would do, and raises all sorts of questions about where Xavier sees  the team's position in the grand scheme of things.  Indeed, all Cyclops' manages is to badly beat Bobby up, and cause an angry mob armed with shotguns to give chase.  The issue ends with the sherrif - who was adamant that Bobby would get a fair hearing up until Cyclops staged a jail-break - threatening to shoot Iceman if he doesn't immediately surrender.  I'm not sure whether we're actually supposed to be rooting for Cyclops here.

Mind you, that's not exactly the rarest of circumstances...


This issue starts very soon after the last one ended.  Angel has now arrived at New York.  How long the flight took isn't discussed, but we learn in Avengers #53 that it takes a quinjet less than half an hour to find Magneto's hideout.  A half-hour flight at full speed for a quinjet would cover about 800 miles.

Comparing that to (what else?) the velocity of an unladen swallow, it would have taken Angel 19 hours to fly that far, assuming top speed could be maintained indefinitely. 

Of course, Angel bigger than a swallow, but that's not to say he's necessarily faster (though he'd presumably need fewer rests).  There's also the stop at Red Raven's base to consider.  All in all, it seems reasonable to assume that this issue takes place the day after the previous one.


Wednesday 23rd April, 1980.



Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 2.30 standard years.

(Iceman is 36 years old.)

Contemporary Events

The brilliant named Nicolas Douchez is born.  He doesn't seem to be very famous, from what I can tell, but then I used up all my football knowledge with that Brazil crack yesterday. 

Standout Line

"[A]s Cyclops ponders what may well be the most fatefully important decision in his career..." Sometimes, the level of insane hyperbole this comic generates is quite exhausting.  Cyclops most fateful decision so far?  Which of three doors he should enter to follow the Toad. 

I'm not saying stopping Mortimer before he can tell his master about the escape would be a bad idea, mind you.  Just maybe slightly less important than deciding whether to trust a man claiming to be Xavier when he tells you how to save the world from eternal slavery.

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