Sunday, 7 August 2011

UXM #65: "Before I'd Be Slave..."

("When worlds collide!")


Today's theme is leadership, and why everyone in this comic is shit at it.

We start off with a pissing contest between Alex (along with Lorna) against the rest of the X-Men.  The newcomers win, just, by promising they have vital news for the team, but it doesn't seem difficult to imagine that Havok was being deliberately difficult, so as to provoke a confrontation (and who's going to replace that lampost, I'd like to know...).  Just afterwards, Scott admits to feeling resentful of Alex's "obvious ability" at leadership.  That's somewhat ironic, actually, considering how long Havok will spend in later years convinced he'll never escape his brother's shadow.

The more important point, however, is that it leads to Scott once again - albeit obliquely - questioning his own skills as leader, just moments before Professor X returns.

The tale of his miraculous return works better than I'd remembered. I complained when I covered the issue in which "he" died, because the man the team watched perished most certainly had psychic powers. This is explained, however, by the Professor having gifted part of his telepathic gift to Changeling when they swapped places.  For someone who's read the X-Men comics of later decades, this seems completely ridiculous, but at this point, there's no reason not to take Xavier at his word: he'd already given some power to Marvel Girl, after all.  Like the idea of Magneto being a telepath, Xavier's ability to give others his power has long been forgotten, but within the context of this story it makes sense, and actually makes it possible to believe this whole story was pre-planned (so long as we accept that gaining Xavier's powers also makes you think somewhat like him).

Anyway, he's back now, and apparently his time hidden from the world hasn't made him less obnoxious.  A quick few hours of him telling everyone how fucking useless they are, and then he's bundling them into a rocket with the words "You haven't a prayer of victory".

Thanks for that, Chuck.  That's the worst moral-booster I've heard since Theoden and Aragorn tried slight variations on their "We're all fucked, but let's risk our lives anyway" speeches in The Return of the King. I guess being trapped for weeks on end in your own basement really rusts your leadership skills, huh?

Still, time is of the essence. SHIELD makes its first appearance in the comic, and last about three panels before it gets its collective butt kicked by the Z'Nox.  Another noble tradition begins here: SHIELD will never win an air war.

Apparently the ugly spectre of anti-intellectualism is already on the rise in the United States.  I feel terribly sorry for the poor scientist trying to get people to believe the current wave of natural disasters is caused by the gravity well of a new planet.  No-one seems willing to listen to his arguments, despite the fact that the Z'Nox world is clearly visible to the naked eye.  Presumably the party line of the American Right is that it's either a) a sign from God, or b) a Soviet super-weapon.  I suspect the latter, if only because it makes missile strikes more likely.

Not that missile strikes would do any good, of course.  The technology of the Z'Nox is so advanced that only Xavier can counter it in order to build one small rocket capable of taking the X-Men to the Z'Nox HQ.  One might take a moment to lament the fact that the vessel wasn't packed with nuclear weapons rather than hormone-crazed teenagers, but there's always something you forget about in a crisis, isn't there?

Actually, once you think about it, Xavier's plan seems pretty shaky.  The whole thing is reliant on both Polaris and Havok, neither of which the team had met by the time Xavier snuck into his secret bunker.  What would he have done without Lorna to (quite ridiculously) use her magnetic powers to broadcast his brain signals?  Or without Alex (much more ridiculously) to turn the those signals (routed through Jean) into cosmic rays that Scott can then absorb?

Still, I am perversely amused by the overall message here.  Xavier gathers together the love and empathy of the entirety of the human race, and then gives it to Cyclops so he can blow the crap out of the alien spaceship.

Beast and Angel's role in the plan, is pretty good, too.  Stand around shooting everything with laser guns.  Who can't get on board with that?


This issue takes place over a single day.

The X-Men return to the mansion to find Havok and Polaris distinctly angry at their absence.  "We expected you days ago!"  Presumably, then, the X-Men took of a little time to allow Hank to recover.  It can't have been too long a break, though, since they get back desperate for some R&R.  Let's say the X-Men stayed a full extra day in New York City after returning from fighting Sunfire in DC, and returned to the mansion the following morning.  That puts their arrival as being four days after they left the southern hemisphere, accounting for Alex's comment.

We learn in this issue that Changeling led the team for "those few weeks".  At present the longest the switch could plausibly have been is one week, however, so we'll have to move everything forward a little.  I've added this extra fortnight on below, but since tomorrow will cover the last issue of UXM before it's original cancellation, I'll wait until then to post the revised timeline.


Thursday 19th June, 1980.



Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 2.89 standard years.

(Iceman is 32 years old.)

"I've seen scarier stories on Star Trek!"
Contemporary Events

Lauren Lee Smith is born, a Canadian actress who plays the telepath Emma DeLauro in the TV series Mutant X, created by Marvel studios, which debuted in 2001 and was basically a live-action X-Men show.

Standout Line

"Never have we encountered a world of such beauty -- such possibilities for defilement! And the people are handsome and hardy! Captives will provide much sport!  Ahhh... this is a happy day --!" Whatever else you can say about the Z'Nox; they definitely love their jobs.  I almost feel bad for them, not being able to plunder our world and enslave the population.  They were just so excited, like a Dalek embryo on Christmas morning.

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