(The ghost is a gargoyle. The dragon is a pussycat. The poet is a prick.)
Heh. Even by the standards of this title, this is entirely lightweight and throwaway, but it's a lot of fun. "The Museum of Oddities" finds Hank and Bobby (a duo which once again proves the rest of the X-Men are completely unnecessary) pretending to be ghost-hunters in order to find a mutant. It's a lovely idea - ironically so much better than their stint years later pretending to be mutant-hunters. Alistair the living gargoyle is oddly cute as well. I think he's underselling his abilities, actually. Yes, standing still isn't much of a power, but he snaffled Hank's lunch with unbelievable speed. Having Alistair on the team would be the next-best thing to fighting the Brotherhood alongside Yogi Bear, and who the hell wouldn't be glad to see that?
"The Soul of a Poet" reintroduces one of the original run's most underappreciated characters: Bernard the talentless beat poet. The idea of "neo-mutants" (mutants who only gain their powers when other mutants are nearby) is maybe kind of silly (though that's a relative term in X-books, of course), but for such a short story that hardly matters. Bernard is just as love-to-hate as always, and having Iceman swipe one of his CDs with which to terrorise the team later on is a nice touch.
"A Girl and her Dragon" is the longest story in the collection, and I'm not sure why. There doesn't seem much point to the initial fight between the X-Men and the dragon except to fill some kind of action quota. The second half of the story, which is about how Jean deals with learning she must let her new friend go (sort of an inverted "Puff the Magic Dragon") is strong enough to stand alone, I would think.
Still, dragon vs. Sentinel? That's a pretty awesome idea right there. "Best dragon ever", as Jean says. (Sorry, Lockheed!)
"A Girl and her Dragon" is clearly set after issue #18, as seems to be the case with all X1C issues; we see the dragon dealing with the Blob, the Juggernaut, and a Sentinel. Since this story takes place over the course of several weeks, we can easily assume the first two stories take place within that period, as neither of them seem situations in which the dragon was liable to be involved.
It is of course difficult to sensibly extrapolate the amount of time necessary for a teenage girl to grow particularly attached to a hydrocephalic dragon, but I think three weeks should just about cover it. We'll therefore assume the X-Men meet the dragon the day after returning from Africa with the professor, and take their new mascot to Monster Island three weeks later.
There's also a ten minute interval we have to find somewhere for Scott to tell Kitty the story of Jean's dragon. That could happen at any time following one of Jean's deaths, though.
Thursday 5th to Thursday 26th October, 1978.
X+188 to X+209.
Pope John Paul II becomes the 264th Pope, suceeding Pope John Paul I.
Nancy Spungen dies and boyfriend Sid Vicious is arrested on suspicion of murder.
"My calculations refute Cerebro's -- otters are cuter!" - Hank