Friday, 30 September 2011

UXM #101: "Like A Phoenix From The Ashes!"

("Mi casa, tu asshole")


Poor old JFK airport.  First Havok takes out a pair of planes, and now Jean is using it as her own personal landing strip for shuttles that are on fire.  The place is starting to look like the library at Sunnydale High, or Bobby Singer's front room.  Indeed, I wonder if there might be times in the X-Men's history when they've destroyed more airports than they have airplanes.

We learn in this issue that Storm can "re-polarise" her unstable-molecule costume to make it look like anything she wishes.  I can't remember this ability lasting for long.  Which is just as well, since it's exceptionally silly (how does one "re-polarise" colours, and how could Storm possibly know how to do it), and whilst that's hardly unusual in '70s Marvel comics, if you're going to be silly, it should at least be in a way that leads to something exploding.

It's interesting that we learn about Logan's feelings for Jean the issue after she's told him she doesn't know why she even tried to like him.  It immediately lets us know that he's planning on chasing her even after she's told him to piss off, and it also explains why he was such an arsehole to her on-board the Starcore shuttle - he was desperately trying to keep her alive and couldn't think of a nicer way to do it.  Having spent eight issues and over a year portraying Wolverine as a bad-tempered, charmless loner, seeing him secretly bin the flowers he's brought Jean so that no-one realises he gives a damn is an important, to say nothing of rather sad, moment. 

Compare and contrast to Xavier admitting to Moira that he used to have a thing for Jean.  OK, so it's an impressively obscure call-back to 1964, but how mad do you have to be to tell your former fiance that there was a time you wanted to do one of your students?  I make a point of never telling anyone at all about the students I want to do.  Because I am a professional.

It's not clear how loudly he said it, either.  Who else heard him?  Did Scott?  Did Wolverine?  Something's clearly pissed Wolverine off; when he snaps at Xavier he seems to start belching out pink fire, and that can't possibly be healthy even for someone with a healing factor.

So it's a good job everyone's off on holiday!  I'm not sure I'd necessarily recommend the Atlantic-buffeted west coast of Ireland in early January, but I suppose New York's going to be pretty miserable at around that time too.  Besides, it lets Sean kill two birds with one stone, and check out his inheritance.  Though, wouldn't you have figured Sean's lawyer would have written a rather less generic letter, given his desperate attempts to post it before Black Tom tracked him down?  "Please come and check out the castle and kick your evil cousin in the junk!" might have been a bit more useful under the circumstances.

Still, too late now.  The X-Men are about to sit down to dinner in their formal wear (all except Sean, who basically points out it's his castle, and he'll where whatever the fuck he likes) when they're thrown down a trap-door! If only some of them could fly!  Never mind, at least there's time for Sean to use his screams to remove his clothes (mercifully, if confusingly, revealing he had his costume on underneath all this time) before he lands.  Wolverine must have done the same after he landed (maybe it's just a bit too cold, and the spandex works as insulation).  And just in time, too!  No sooner have the X-Men gotten changed (rather than, say, having Nightcrawler teleport them out again) but Black Tom and the Juggernaut arrive.  It's time for some killings!

As a final point, something Teebore noticed and I missed the first time around is that this is the first issue of UXM which features no superhero battling at all.    Black Tom and Juggernaut don't arrive until the very end, and until that point there's been very little in the way of superhero antics of any kind.  This is another legacy of Claremont's that subsequent writers have returned to from time to time (particularly Scott Lobdell) the issues in which the team get the chance to interact with each other as people, rather than as crime-fighters/walking weapons.


This issue carries on directly from UXM #100.  The team are given Jean's prognosis the day after the crash, then presumably head for Ireland the following day, where they spend a week sightseeing before heading to Cassidy Keep.  All told, this takes us forwards by eight days, and into 1982.


Tuesday 29th December, 1981 to Wednesday 6th January, 1982.


X+3Y+239 to X+3Y+247.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.56 standard years.

(Iceman is 29 years old)

Contemporary Events

Ghana suffers a coup d'etat, in which the Third Republic is replaced with a military dictatorship under Jerry Rawlings.

WIllian Bonin, the second of the "Freeway Killers" (originally believed to be a single person) is convicted.

Victor Buono, an American actor perhaps best known as playing King Tut in the Adam West Batman series, passes away, aged just 43.

Standout Line

"Hear me, X-Men! No longer am I the woman you knew! I am fire! An life incarnate! Now and forever -- I AM PHOENIX!" - Phoenix, first words.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

UXM #100: "Greater Love Hath No X-Man..."

(Today was the last day of the whole of your life to now.)


Hmm.  The X-Men don't really seem to be on their game today, even allowing for the fact that three of them are suffering from the after-effects of exposure to hard vacuum, and a fourth is trying to resist freaking out entirely. They've just spent the last few minutes defeating a robot army determined to destroy them, and now they've come face to face with the original X-Men - two of whom have changed costume and sides astonishing quickly, and a third who's appearance is over a year out of date - and no-one thinks that these people might be robots too?

It's damn lucky for Dr Lang that our heroes have been chowing down on dehydrated stupid pills, actually, because otherwise this plan is pretty weak.  The the Cyclops, Havok and Polaris robots are pretty impressive, but otherwise there's no reason to think any of the mechanical doppelgangers are any tougher to beat than a standard Sentinel.  Icebot actually starts the fight by throwing snowballs, and Xavierbot tries to beat Wolverine in fisticuffs, rather than frying his brain.  Maybe Lang is hoping to use the fake X-Men to lull other mutants into a false sense of security (somewhat implausibly, since the percentage of mutants the team has met and not tried to punch out is somewhere around zero), but right now it seems like an awful lot of effort just to confuse the X-Men for a few moments.  I mean, there are other ways to use Sentinels to do that.

Lang's clearly a mental case, of course.  The instant his "X-Sentinels" are destroyed (well, one is destroyed, then they seem to give up), he flies into an apoplectic rage that causes him to explain his entire back-story to his enemies.  As you do.  His "flying gunship" is rubbish too, both visually, and because his controls jam almost immediately and he crashes and dies.  Note to Dr Lang: maybe if you'd spent all your money on Sentinels OR on X-Sentinels OR on a kick-ass gunship OR just not being in space for no reason, you might have gotten somewhere.  Idiot.

This story isn't really about Lang's ludicrous plan at all though, really.  This is about creating a situation whereby Jean is the only X-Man who can get everyone home (she can use her TK to shore up the whole in the Starcore shuttle's hull, and can pilot the craft using the knowledge in Corbeau's head).  Not surprisingly, since this seems an obvious suicide mission (that pesky solar activity again!), this leads to much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but we all know what's coming, right?  It's time for Claremont's fist major contribution to the X-Universe: the birth of the Phoenix.


This story takes place in approximately real-time.


Tuesday 29th of December, 1981.



Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.53 standard years.

(Iceman is 29 years old.)

"Heads up, midget!"

Contemporary Events

The BBC shows a film with one of the best taglines ever written:

Standout Line

"I have tried to like you, Wolverine -- obnoxious little upstart that you are -- but for the life of me, I don't know why I made the effort!" Jean's appraisal of Logan, which is mainly of interest in comparison to what she says to him the next time they're about to burn to death out in space, twenty five years later.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

UXM #99: "Deathstar, Rising!"

("The space between us...")


There's an awful lot going on here.  That's a welcome change from Hidden Years (even if last issue was somewhat faster than normal), but you could argue that this book goes a little too far in the other direction.

First up: the big reveal - Banshee, Wolverine and Jean's attempt to escape the Sentinels goes horribly wrong when they break through the walls to discover they've thrown themselves into the

You gotta admit, that's a great twist.  I'm not sure it makes any sense - did S.H.I.E.L.D. not leave any kind of monitoring device when they left?  Are they really OK with the US using it for undisclosed purposes? - but I certainly didn't see it coming the first time I read it.

The next surprise comes hard on the heels of the first, as Lang scrambles his Sentinels to save his foes from an ugly death.  Which might seem like a terrible waste of energy (especially with all this pesky solar activity screwing up the robots - looks like their beef with the Sun is far from over).  But Lang knows what he's doing.  He has a bachelors degree in planning, and a master's in making those plans sinister.  Dude is on the case.

Meanwhile, also to be added to the "What the Hell?" files, Corbeau has re-wired Cerebro (because apparently that's no great shakes for an astronomer) so that it can detect Sentinels.  Or at least it can in theory - there's no signals to be found.  This leads Corbeau to conclude the robots can't be on Earth (optimistic, but whatever) and that therefore the X-Men need to search space.

Think about that for a minute.  The X-Men need to search the parts of the universe that aren't Earth.  

Still, Corbeau seems to have a rough idea where they should be headed (I blame the Sentinels and their ultra-linear leaping; that must be a dead giveaway), so he hastily arranges a shuttle-launch (because how hard can that be), and the remainder of the team blast skywards.

But OH NO!  The significant solar activity which has been known to everyone for days turns out to not be much fun to fly in.  Corbeau and Co are barely out of the troposphere when they realise an ugly death is very much in the offing.  Fortunately, they're close enough to a sinister space station to radio for help.  At this point, they either don't know that this is Lang's base, in which case the level of coincidence in this comic has now quite literally reached cosmic proportions, or they do know, which makes asking to borrow a cup of oxygen a distinctly high-risk strategy.

Still, it's worth it just to demonstrate an important character point - Steven Lang is a prick to everyone he considers different.  He's all like "No aerobic respiration for you, you've got a Red aboard" even before Sentinel Bob (that's not his actual name, but I like giving them back-stories) tells him that the shuttle is packed to bursting with mean ol' mutants.

That means it's time for another Sentinel throw-down, and this time they have the distinct advantage of only having to puncture a shuttle-craft to deal with everyone on board.  Or so they think!  Storm turns out to be able to manipulate the solar winds (which probably annoyed a lot of people, but I thought was a great idea), and then Corbeau rams the space station, because as unlikely as that is to result in an airtight seal, at least the team might be within range of somewhere that's still fleshling-friendly.

Throughout all of this - and here's why I suggested that maybe too much was going on - Storm is having a crisis of confidence because she's worried the Sentinels she's blasting might be manned (weren't the new guys briefed on the nature of previous X-Men foes?  Or did they all start giggling so hard at The Locust that Xavier had to abandon the briefing?), and Colossus is giving off signs that his feelings for Ororo might be more than casual friendship.

It's all very chaotic, and melodramatic, but then this is Claremont's X-Men, so what can one expect.  In any event, we conclude the book (which is all of nineteen pages long, remember) with Cyclops freeing Jean, only to be knocked down by... the X-Men?

Seems Lang was only using the Sentinels for muscle (which is why they've been so rubbish this time around -which is a nice suberversion of the Law of Inverse Ninjas) whilst he built the real anti-mutant weapon - the original team of X-Men themselves.  Ooooooooh!

Also in today's issue: a brief nod to Judge Chalmers (who tried shut down Larry Trask's Sentinel force, and who is know apparently a known mutant sympathiser) and a warning from Claremont that you don't want to be Irish - you'll invariably sound like an idiot - and, if you have to be Irish, you don't want to be Banshee's lawyer. Ooooooooooooooooh!


This issue takes place over the course of a few hours.

The opening news bulletin places the Sentinel attack on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas Day, so we'll change the timeline accordingly.  Otherwise, this issue carries on directly from the previous one.  Since the launch of the Starcore shuttle is at midnight, this issue straddles two days.


Monday 28th to Tuesday 29th  of December, 1981.


X+3Y+238 to X+3Y+239.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.49 standard years.

(Iceman is 29 years old)

"Like heck you are, lady!"
 Contemporary Events

Frank Turner is born.  If you don't know who that is, you should correct that mistake immediately.  Here, I'll give you a hand:

Standout Line

"I find the Sentinels easier to survive than your bear hugs." Storm, to Colossus.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Timeline: 1980



19th UXM 32: Beware the Juggernaut, my Son!
19th UXM 33: Into The Crimson Cosmos!
19th UXM 34: War -- in a World of Darkness!
20th UXM 34: War -- in a World of Darkness!


5th   UXM 35: Along Came a Spider...!
5th   UXM 36: Mekano Lives!
6th   UXM 37: We, the Jury...
6th   UXM 38: The Sinister Shadow of... Doomsday!
6th   UXM 39: The Fateful Finale!
12th UXM 40: The Mark of the Monster!
13th X1C 4: Seeing Red.
14th X1C 5: The Littlest Frost Giant.
15th X1C 6: The S-Men.
16th X1C 6: The S-Men.
29th UXM 41: Now Strikes... the Sub-Human!
29th UXM 42: If I Should Die...


5th   UXM 43: The Torch is Passed...!
6th   UXM 43: The Torch is Passed...!
7th   UXM 43: The Torch is Passed...!
8th   UXM 43: The Torch is Passed...!
8th   UXM 44: Red Raven, Red Raven...!
9th   UXM 45: When Mutants Clash!
13th UXM 46: The End of the X-Men!
17th UXM 47: The Warlock Wears Three Faces!
18th UXM 48: Beware Computo: Controller of the Robot Hive!
27th UXM 49: Who Dares Defy... the Demi Men?
27th UXM 50: City of Mutants.
27th UXM 51: The Devil had a Daughter!
28th UXM 51: The Devil had a Daughter!
29th UXM 51: The Devil had a Daughter!
30th UXM 51: The Devil had a Daughter!
31th UXM 51: The Devil had a Daughter!


1st    UXM 51: The Devil had a Daughter!
1st   UXM 52: Twilight of the Mutants!
5th   UXM 53: The Rage of Blastaar!
6th   UXM 54: Wanted: Dead or Alive -- Cyclops!
6th   UXM 55: The Living Pharaoh!
7th   UXM 55: The Living Pharaoh!
7th   UXM 56: What is... the Power?
7th   UXM 57: The Sentinels Live!
8th   UXM 58: Mission: Murder!
9th   UXM 58: Mission: Murder!
9th   UXM 59. Do or Die, Baby!
9th   UXM 60: In the Shadow of... Sauron!
9th   UXM 61: Monsters Also Weep!
10th UXM 61: Monsters Also Weep!
19th UXM 62: Strangers... in a Savage Land!
19th UXM 63: War in the World Below!
21st UXM 64: The Coming of Sunfire!
28th UXM 65: Before I'd be Slave...
28th UXM 66: The Mutants and the Monster.


1st  XHY 1: Once More the Savage Land.
2nd XHY 2: The Ghost and the Darkness.
2nd XHY 3: On Wings of Angels.
3rd  XHY 3: On Wings of Angels.
3rd  XHY 4: Escape to Oblivion.
4th XHY 5: Riders on the Storm.
4th XHY 6: Behold a Goddess Rising..!
4th XHY 7: Power Play.
5th XHY 7: Power Play.
6th XHY 7: Power Play.
7th XHY 7: Power Play.
7th XHY 8: Shadow on the Stars.


4th X1F 1: Senioritis.
4th X1F 2: Beginning of the End.
4th X1F 3: Higher Learning.


26th AMA 11: The Beast!
26th AMA 12: Iron Man: D.O.A.
27th  AMA 12: Iron Man: D.O.A.
27th AMA 13: Evil is All in Your Mind!
28th AMA 13: Evil is All in Your Mind!
29th AMA 14: The Vampire Machine.
29th AMA 15. Murder in Mid-Air!
30th AMA 15. Murder in Mid-Air!
31st AMA 16. ...And the Juggernaut will get you... if you Don't Watch out!

XHY #8: "Shadow On The Stars"

(Space Invaded.)


When I get around to it, I'm going to go back through these issues and count the number of pages that are devoted to pointless flashbacks.  There's no doubt in my mind that with the three pages included here to recap the team's last battle with the Sentinels - something that has nothing to do with the rest of this issue - there'd be enough of them to fill an entire issue at the very least.  From the letters page in this book I assume the Sentinels will be showing up pretty soon, but are we going to get a recap of the recap?  Or is the first three pages here a complete waste?

Whilst we're on the subject of letter pages, I should note that the responses there make it clear that Bryne has put a lot of work into ensuring these stories fit seamlessly into continuity (they note, for example, that Lorna can't be referred to as Polaris at any point because she's given the name by Erik the Red in UXM #97).  Obviously, I stand and salute this noble endeavour.  Indeed, although some of the actual distances involved still make no sense, it's clear Byrne is working to a carefully constructed timeline.  That's exceptionally thoughtful of him.  Shame his stories are such guff.

Having said that, this is probably the best issue produced so far.  It's certainly better paced than usual.  It also makes extremely logical use of the characters.  Of course the Fantastic Four (who go gallivanting around the cosmos every other Tuesday) are going to be concerned about where the Z'Nox are headed next, whereas the X-Men would just be happy to get rid of them so they could concentrate on the next threat to their survival.  I suppose it also helps that story is a continuation of one in which a massively superior alien force is defeated by the power of love, so it's not like Bryne could really do it any damage.

Ultimately, the terrible dialogue drags the story down, as we've come to expect, but otherwise it's perfectly serviceable.  I'm glad they haven't dropped the "something is wrong with Xavier" idea, and that Candy Southern is still snooping around (though I'm no closer to getting any idea about what it is she's trying to achieve).   Havok and "Magnetrix" are off to find Iceman, too, so hopefully we'll have the team back together soon, so they can go rescue Angel, now sold off to a slaver(?) named Kreuger.

Assuming, of course, Jean can survive being possessed by what looks an awful lot like the Phoenix Force.  I can barely believe I'm typing this, but, I'm interested to know what happens next.

Just as a general point regarding my hatred of the dialogue, something struck me as I was reading this issue again (I generally read each book three times before I post an opinion, so I hope you appreciate the twenty-four times I've been exposed to this comic).  Maybe I'm reading it wrong, and Byrne is deliberately trying to bridge the gap between UXM #66 and Giant Size X-Men tonally as well as in terms of narrative.  In which case, I'd have to say he was wasting his time (I've read the whole of the pre-cancellation X-Men in the last four months and I still think this comic is a waste of time), but it would mean an experiment has failed, rather than a hack has been given access to a typewriter.


The main story in this issue takes place over a single day.  The captions note that Lorna and Alex's interlude (and presumably Angels', too) aren't necessarily entirely concurrent, but in both cases, it's just as likely that they happen before Scott, Jean, Hank and the Fantastic Four [1] blast off into space as after.

The opening narration places the battle between the X-Men and Larry Trask's Sentinels as being "four weeks ago".  Our current timeline has it as being three weeks ago.  That's hardly a disaster, but given the already-discussed ridiculous speed with which three X-Men reached Kenya from Antarctica, it makes sense to inject another fewdays into the time-line.  That would throw Iceman's experiences out of whack with what everyone else was up to, but after this issue's "not quite meanwhile" admission, I don't think that should get in our way.

Furthermore, Xavier stipulates that the Z'Nox attack took place nine days ago.  That's also out of synch with our current time line, and when combined with the information above, really only leaves us one choice: to pretend it's feasible for Storm's, er, storm, to blow Hank to East Africa within 24 hours.

I'll make the changes to the timeline when I post the 1980 dates later today.


Monday 7th July, 1980.



Contemporary Events

Led Zeppelin perform their last ever concert (reformations don't count!) in Berlin.

Standout Line

"The temporal conjunction is appropriate to the application of concussive force!" Hank's impression of The Thing.

[1] Who for some reason have swapped out Sue Storm for Crystal from the Inhumans.  Anyone know why?

Monday, 26 September 2011

UXM #98: "Merry Christmas, X-Men..."

("Deck the halls with mutant bodies...")


Ah, Christmas.  A time of goodwill.  Of fun and family.  Of charity and consideration.

Unless you're the X-Men, of course, in which case you'll bitch about the colour of the snow, or possibly act like borderline sex pests (how exactly are Peter and Kurt planning on navigating the tricky "He's a mutant and worse, I'm a Communist" conversation once they finally catch up with the girls they're stalking, anyhow).  Or start either badmouthing the season (Wolverine) or stressing so much you almost miss it (Cyclops).  Thank FSM for a Sentinel attack, quite frankly.  They might not even be programmed to hunt mutants, actually, they might just have decided to help knock off the bullshit.

It might not even have been the misuse of Christmas they're objecting to.  It might be the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby cameo that has them pissed off (what is it about comics that make creator cameos so very common, especially during annual celebrations), or fury at Jean Grey's staggering self-involvement (Scott: "You're beautiful";  Jean: "My turn now -- do you love me?"; Scott: "Yes"; Jean: "I'm glad".)

Whilst the Sentinels are doing their part to defend the festive season in the War on Christmas, Professor Xavier is fishing in the Bahamas with his old friend Peter Corbeau, who works at the UN's equivalent of NASA and who Charles has asked to hunt down the binary star system he keeps seeing in his dreams.

Does anyone know how to spend Christmas?  Fishing in the Atlantic whilst grilling your friend for information?  And why is Corbeau going along with this?  Doesn't he have a family waiting for him, or something?  When a Sentinel rises from the water to kidnap Xavier, it feels less like a violent act of anti-mutant bigotry, and much more like the Ghost of Christmas Past has gone electronic.

Eventually Xavier, Jean, Banshee and Wolverine all find themselves captured (the latter two off-panel, rather pathetically) and, waking up four days later, are forced to listen to Steven Lang's ravings.  You know the kind of thing; "I'm not a Nazi!  I just want to exterminate an entire group of people entirely independently of their characters or actions!"  Plus, you can tell he's a bad guy because he slaps Jean around to make a point.  Fortunately, this backfires, because it allows Wolverine to escape using his patented Sudden Burst Of Anger Over Woman-Beating power.  I guess that didn't show up in the scans because of Wolverine's unique biology,  Which - fun fact - is foreshadowing for the, er, original origin of Logan, which is that he was a mutated wolverine, which got binned when someone did something similar with Spider-Woman and Stan Lee (quite accurately) pronounced it total shit.  That's also why it's revealed in this issue that his claws are part of him.

Anyway, continuing Claremont's already-established concentric stories approach, the X-Men (minus the unconscious Charles) fight their way clear of the Sentinels, only to be suddenly transported into space.  To Be Continued..!


This story takes place over five days.

The narration tells us that the year is 1975, and Jean notes that they last fought the Sentinels in 1969 (which is true).  As always, such absolute references will be ignored.

Despite the first issue coming out more than twelve years before this one, this is the first explicit reference to Christmas in the X-Men's world.  I mentioned way back in the very first post on the blog that I might have to ignore at least some festive season adventures, just to prevent the whole experiment collapsing, but since issue #96 took place in September, we can include this particularly Christmas without too much difficulty.

What is difficult is dealing with Cyclops' comment to Jean that he's "been with" Wolverine for almost a year.  That, of course, is totally ridiculous.  The story from Giant-Size... through to UXM #96 is almost entirely continuous (there's a gap of "weeks" between #95 and #96), which even with the weeks of training the new team goes through means the combined time for Xavier's preparation time for his holiday, plus his holiday itself, would have to be approaching a year as well.  Beyond that, it would force this Christmas to be fifteen months after Thunderbird's death. 

As a general rule, if a comic's timeline requires events in the comic to be going slower than they are in the real world (without explicit "One year later..." style captions), someone's made a mistake somewhere, and that's what this looks like.

We'll therefore ignore Scott's line (clearly Jean is manipulating his thoughts, for some reason) and place this story in December, 1981.  Given the references to a White Christmas, we'll assume that the Sentinel attack happens on Christmas Day itself.


Friday 25th to Tuesday 29th of December, 1981.


X+3Y+234 to X+3Y+239.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.45 standard years.

(Iceman is 29 years old.)

Contemporary Events

After a month in the charts, The Human League's "Don't You Want Me" becomes the Christmas number one.

The first American "test-tube baby" is born, as are Emilie de Ravin and Sienna Miller.

Standout Line

"Returning to base via ultra-linear leap..."  Behold the future, humanity, and tremble with horror!  When the robots finally come to us, they will not approach us linearly, but ultra-linearly!  Think of the most linear line imaginable, and then ultrafy that shit.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Timeline: 1979



2nd X1C 9: The New Recruit.


7th    X1C 6: The Catalyst.
8th    X1C 6: The Catalyst.
8th    X1C 7: The Catalyst, Part 2.
9th     X1C 7:  The Catalyst, Part 2.
10th  X1C 7:  The Catalyst, Part 2.
11th  X1C 7:  The Catalyst, Part 2.
12th  X1C 7:  The Catalyst, Part 2.
13th  X1C 7:  The Catalyst, Part 2.
14th  X1C 8:  Adventure into Fear.
16th  X1C 10: Frederick.
16th  X1C 11: ...Canon.
17th  X1C 12: Fly Away.
18th  X1C 12: Fly Away.
19th  X1C 12: Fly Away.
20th  X1C 12: Fly Away.
21st  X1C 13: Rise, Robot, Rise.
21st  X1C 14: Lava Man Attack!
21st  X1C 15: Bad Hair Day.
22nd X1C 15: Bad Hair Day.
23rd X1C 16: 4X.
24th X1C 16: 4X.
25th X1C 16: 4X.


16th X1C 4: Road Trip.
17th X1C 4: Road Trip.
18th X1C 4: Road Trip.
19th X1C 4: Road Trip.
20th X1C 4: Road Trip.
21st X1C 4: Road Trip.
22nd X1C 4: Road Trip.
23rd X1C 4: Road Trip.
24th X1C 4: Road Trip.
25th X1C 4: Road Trip.
26th X1C 4: Road Trip.
27th X1C 4: Road Trip.
28th X1C 4: Road Trip.
29th X1C 4: Road Trip.
30th X1C 4: Road Trip.
31st UXM 22: Divided -- we Fall!


1st UXM 22: Divided -- we Fall!
1st UXM 23: To Save a City.


30th X1C 5: Smash.


14th UXM 24: The Plague of... The Locust!
15th UXM 24: The Plague of... The Locust!
16th UXM 24: The Plague of... The Locust!
17th UXM 24: The Plague of... The Locust!
18th UXM 24: The Plague of... The Locust!
20th UXM 25: The Power and the Pendant!
21st  UXM 25: The Power and the Pendant!
22nd UXM 25: The Power and the Pendant!
23rd UXM 25: The Power and the Pendant!
23rd UXM 26: Holocaust!
24th UXM 26: Holocaust!
26th Re-Enter: The Mimic!
27th Re-Enter: The Mimic!
28th Re-Enter: The Mimic!

1st UXM 28: Wail of the Banshee!


5th   UXM 29: When Titans Clash!
6th   UXM 30: The Warlock Wakes!
11th UXM 31: We Must Destroy... the Cobalt Man!

(Titles in blue represent the second volume).

UXM #97: "My Brother, My Enemy!"

(Brothers in armament.)


This issue is predominantly a tussle at JFK between the X-Men and "Erik the Red", with a mind-controlled Havok and Polaris in tow.  I'm not sure what can be said about that, really. Reviewing action sequences had never been particularly easy for me, because I've no idea what I'm supposed to be commenting or focusing on.  A lot of things explode, people get punched, and there's no needless body count.  So yay, I guess?  Plus, watching Cyclops sucker-punch Wolverine for his advanced dickishness is a rare treat.

A few other threads are showing up.  Through Xavier's dreams we catch our first ever glimpse of the Shi'ar, which combined with Jean's sudden an unexplained reappearance (though I guess quitting the team doesn't have to mean not hanging out with Scott and Charles socially) puts the pieces in place for the upcoming birth of Phoenix [1].   There's also an interesting final in which we see Steven Lang observing the debris from the battle through a monitor, which is itself being observed on another monitor.  Oooooooooh

It's a good picture, but it's also a perfect encapsulation of Claremont's storytelling method, plots inside plots isnide plots.  More than one of the writers who ultimately replaced Claremont tried to emulate the approach, but no-one did it as well as the master.


This story takes place over four days.


Saturday 5th to Tuesday 8th September, 1981.


X+3Y+123 to X+3Y+126.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.72 standard years.

(Iceman is 28 years old.)

Contemporary Events

Ayatollah Ali Qoddusi, the Chief Prosecutor of Iran, is assassinated by the People's Mujahedin of Iraq.

Hideki Yukawa, the first Japanese Nobel laureate, who won the prize in physics in 1947, after his predicted pion was discovered, dies aged 78.

Standout Line

"Please tell Nightcrawler that Tony Stark's image inducer is not a toy. It's to make him look unobtrusive... not like some 1930's movie star." - Charles.

[1] Which is when Uncanny X-Men First Class picks up again after the Giant Size special.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Timeline: 1978



31st  UXM 1: The X-Men.


1st     UXM 1: The X-Men.
3rd    UXM 2: No-one Can Stop the Vanisher!
4th    UXM 2: No-one Can Stop the Vanisher!
5th    UXM 2: No-one Can Stop the Vanisher!
6th    UXM 2: No-one Can Stop the Vanisher!
7th    UXM 2: No-one Can Stop the Vanisher!
22nd UXM 3: Beware of the Blob!
23rd UXM 4: The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!
24th UXM 4: The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!
25th UXM 4: The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!
26th UXM 4: The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!
27th UXM 4: The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!
28th UXM 4: The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!
29th UXM 4: The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!
30th UXM 4: The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!

1st    UXM 4: The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!
2nd   UXM 4: The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!
6th   UXM 5: Trapped: One X-Man!
7th    UXM 5: Trapped: One X-Man!
13th UXM 6: Submariner! Joins the Evil Mutants.
14th UXM 6: Submariner! Joins the Evil Mutants.
15th UXM 6: Submariner! Joins the Evil Mutants.


29th UXM 7: Return of the Blob.
30th UXM 7: Return of the Blob.


1st   UXM 8: The Uncanny Threat of... Unus the Untouchable!
2nd  UXM 8: The Uncanny Threat of... Unus the Untouchable!
3rd   UXM 8: The Uncanny Threat of... Unus the Untouchable!
4th   UXM 8: The Uncanny Threat of... Unus the Untouchable!
5th   UXM 8: The Uncanny Threat of... Unus the Untouchable!
6th   UXM 8: The Uncanny Threat of... Unus the Untouchable!
7th   UXM 8: The Uncanny Threat of... Unus the Untouchable!
8th   UXM 8: The Uncanny Threat of... Unus the Untouchable!
15th UXM 9: Enter: the Avengers. 
16th UXM 9: Enter: the Avengers.
17th UXM 9: Enter: the Avengers.
18th UXM 9: Enter: the Avengers.
19th UXM 9: Enter: the Avengers.
29th X1C 1:  The Job Shadow.


15th UXM 10: The Coming of... Ka-Zar.
22nd UXM 11: The Triumph of Magneto!
22nd UXM 12: The Origin of Professor X.
22nd UXM 13: Where Walks the Juggernaut!


5th   UXM 14: Among us Stalk... the Sentinels! 
6th   UXM 14: Among us Stalk... the Sentinels! 
6th   UXM 15: Prisoners of the Mysterious Master Mold!
6th   UXM 16: The Supreme Sacrifice
6th   UXM 17: ...And None Shall Survive!
7th   UXM 17: ...And None Shall Survive!
7th   UXM 18: ...If Iceman Should Fail!
8th   UXM 18: ...If Iceman Should Fail!
9th    X1C 1: X-Men 101.
11th X1C 2: The Bird, The Beast, and the Lizard.
17th X1C 3: A Life of the Mind.


1st    X1C 7: Who Wants to Date a Millionaire?
2nd   X1C 8: The Treasure Hunters
3rd   X1C 8: The Treasure Hunters
5th    XIC 2: Island X
6th    XIC 2: Island X
7th    XIC 2: Island X
8th    XIC 2: Island X
9th    XIC 2: Island X (Part 2)
10th X1C 1: Museum of Oddities - The Soul of a Poet - A Girl and her Dragon
11th X1C 1: Museum of Oddities - The Soul of a Poet - A Girl and her Dragon
12th X1C 1: Museum of Oddities - The Soul of a Poet - A Girl and her Dragon
13th X1C 1: Museum of Oddities - The Soul of a Poet - A Girl and her Dragon
14th X1C 1: Museum of Oddities - The Soul of a Poet - A Girl and her Dragon
15th X1C 1: Museum of Oddities - The Soul of a Poet - A Girl and her Dragon
16th X1C 1: Museum of Oddities - The Soul of a Poet - A Girl and her Dragon
17th X1C 1: Museum of Oddities - The Soul of a Poet - A Girl and her Dragon
18th X1C 1: Museum of Oddities - The Soul of a Poet - A Girl and her Dragon
19th X1C 1: Museum of Oddities - The Soul of a Poet - A Girl and her Dragon
20th X1C 1: Museum of Oddities - The Soul of a Poet - A Girl and her Dragon
21th X1C 1: Museum of Oddities - The Soul of a Poet - A Girl and her Dragon
22th X1C 1: Museum of Oddities - The Soul of a Poet - A Girl and her Dragon
23th X1C 1: Museum of Oddities - The Soul of a Poet - A Girl and her Dragon
24th X1C 1: Museum of Oddities - The Soul of a Poet - A Girl and her Dragon
25th X1C 1: Museum of Oddities - The Soul of a Poet - A Girl and her Dragon
26th X1C 1: Museum of Oddities - The Soul of a Poet - A Girl and her Dragon
27th X1C 1: Museum of Oddities - The Soul of a Poet - A Girl and her Dragon
28th X1C 1: Museum of Oddities - The Soul of a Poet - A Girl and her Dragon
29th X1C 1: Museum of Oddities - The Soul of a Poet - A Girl and her Dragon
30th X1C 1: Museum of Oddities - The Soul of a Poet - A Girl and her Dragon


1st   UXM 19: Lo!  Now Shall Appear -- The Mimic!
2nd  UXM 19: Lo!  Now Shall Appear -- The Mimic!
6th   UXM 20.  I, Lucifer...
6th  UXM 21.  From Whence Comes... Dominus?
7th  UXM 21.  From Whence Comes... Dominus?

(Titles in blue represent the second volume  Titles in red represent specials.)

Giant-Size Uncanny X-Men First Class #1 (No titles)

(Why can't I have a sling made from a demon cow?)


This is one of those rare things from Marvel - a comic that's legitimately hilarious.  I haven't laughed this hard at one of books since Nextwave, and that isn't technically in the main continuity anyway.

This issue gets round the problem by having the new X-Men describe their pasts to Moira.  Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler go for important stories that help explain their personalities - Storm learning she couldn't escape her problems with a carefree attitude, Colossus saving his friends and learning that they would happily accept him for what he is, and Nightcrawler's realisation that he could be the star of the "Winding Roads Circus", but only at the price of no-one ever knowing who he truly is. They're all nice tales, and work as brief illustrations, but it's Banshee and (especially Wolverine) who hog the limelight.

Banshee's tale takes the form of a comic poem (allegedly a song written by a friend) in which he saves a woman from being abducted by apparently half the Irish underworld (the supernatural one, not those guys from In Bruges), only to fall in love with her.  There can't be a traditionally happy ending here, of course (indeed, Banshee was presumably telling this tale to Moira whilst surreptitiously checking out her legs), and Sean learns that the lady he's saved is actually a banshee.  She can't stay with him, she tells him, but on the day he finally dies, she will return to sing him into the next life, so he won't be alone.

Maybe I'm an old softy, but I had a tear in my throat reading that, knowing (as did the writers) how Banshee met his end, surrounded by strangers and killed by a madman.  It's a wonderful bittersweet ending to a funny but otherwise inconsequential bit of fluff.

Wolverine's story is so brilliant I almost snorted my liver out of my nostrils. None of it is true, of course, but that's what makes it so funny. In Wolvie's tale to Moira, he gains superpowers by being bitten by a radioactive Wolverine, and then tries to make ends meet with various odd-jobs until he finally gives into his calling and becomes an agent of S.N.I.K.T., travelling the world fighting evil -including the zombie-clowns of Budapest ("Don't make me laugh!) and the vicious agents of B.I.M.B.O. ("Break one nail and two false ones will take its place!"). 

Eventually, he saves a bald man from B.I.M.B.O.s clutches and agrees to join his X-Men, purely so he can bone the hot red-head he'd noticed at a party.

It is, quite simply, the best four pages of anything I've read this year, even before you get to the final spread, which contains some of the mutants that didn't make the grade (the Australian "Didgery Dude" is a particular highlight), which reminds me of an irregular strip that used to show up in the UK issues of Transformers from time to time (I wanted to find one to put on the blog, but these days you won't get anything back from a Google search of "rubbish Transformers" that isn't about Michael Bay).


The framing story in this issue can be assumed to play out over three days.  The timings of the other stories - each one a tale from the past of one of the new X-Men - doesn't really concern us. 

The fact that Moira is at the mansion (though Cyclops shouldn't know she's a scientist at thus point) places the framing story after UXM #96, hence why I'm considering it now.


Wednesday 2nd to Friday 4th September, 1981.


X+3Y+120 to X+3Y+122.

Contemporary Events

The Iranian government announce a provisional Prime Minister and leader of the Islamic Republic Party to replace officials assassinated three days earlier.

The USSR perform their first underground nuclear test.

Dame Enid Lyons, the first woman to be elected to the Australian House of Representatives, passes away, aged 84.

Standout Line

I can't choose between Wolverine's various jobs: children's author ("Bouncy Bear went to visit his friend, Walter Weasel.  "Where's the money you owe me, Walter?" Bouncy asked as he pulled out his favourite mallet."); actor ("This is one salesman that ain't dyin, bub!"), or folk-singer ("How many roads must a man walk down... before he gives up and steals a car?").

Friday, 23 September 2011

Time To Rethink Time

Now that the red-hot X-action that we've covered has entered its fourth (in-universe) year, the timelines are going to need a rethink.  If I keep posting the whole thing up in one go, I am liable to destroy the internet, which is something I'd much really rather do deliberately rather than accidentally, and only when I've finally got sick of porn.

Starting tomorrow, then, I'm going to be breaking the timeline into four pieces, one per year.  The advantage to that is, barring some kind of total continuity catastrophe (like, for example, the flashbacks in Deadly Genesis, but we'll talk about that another day), we can hopefully leave alone each year-long timeline once it's finished, especially once I've finished The Hidden Years and First Class Finals.

UXM #96: "Night Of The Demon!"

(There can be only one one-eye!)


Claremont isn't wasting any time, is he? Three issue in (his first without Len Wein on plotting duty) and we already have Moira MacTaggert and the N'Garai demons to add to the list of major parts of the X-Universe.

Not that "major" necessarily translates into "good", of course.  I'd be mad to complain about Moira, obviously, but what about those pesky demons?  I've never been a fan of the N'Garai, both because the X-Men are rarely at their most interesting fighting supernatural/magical threats (or flying around in outer space, for that matter), and because even by comic book standards, the idea that they have a cairn on the Xavier's property is just ludicrously coincidental.

Also, Kierrok the Damned always just looks really silly to me.  Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that if he broke through my living room wall I'd rapidly develop serious internal plumbing issues, but on paper, he's never really worked for me.

Aside from the extra-dimensional fiend angle to all this, though, there's a lot here to love.  Cyclops mope through the browning leaves as he tries to process Thunderbird's death might be absurdly melodramatic (when you're describing autumnal hues as "a thousand myriad shades of... death!", you should probably think about cutting back on the Cure albums), but it's nice to see Cyclops' reaction to the death of one of his team, and to be moping about something other than his powers or Jean.

There's also Steven Lang to think about (whom I could have included in the list of important new characters, actually).  This is a guy who need help urgently.  It's one thing to have a death wish against all mutants, but calling your government program "Project Armageddon" is a pretty sure sign that you've completely lost the plot.  Tossing around phrases like "final ultimate conflict" doesn't really help matters, either.  Then again, what can you expect from a man who saw Bolivar Trask's robots almost kill their creator, then their creator's son, and thinks "Man, I got to get me some of that!"?  I can't remember the exact details of how this ends, but between this and the mysterious arrival of Mrs MacTaggert, it certainly seems like Claremont has already set out his stall regarding slowly boiling subplots.

In amongst all this demon-punching, mutant-loathing hi-jinks, however, my favourite part of this whole issue is a single panel, in which Wolverine is talking to Xavier whilst simultaneously carving a game of noughts and crosses into one of Charlie's expensive tables.  That's such a wonderfully nonchalant "fuck you".  I don't think anyone else is even playing.


This story takes place over a day and a night.

This issue is explicitly described as taking place in September, at the start of an early autumn.  It's also mentioned that it's been weeks since Thunderbird's death.

Clearly, this means the timeline is going to have to be changed (which probably was necessary anyway, to account for Beast's first few years with the Avengers).  We'll put this issue on the first day of September, then go back a fortnight for John's death in the field, and another month for the Krakoa mission.  I'll put a new timeline up later - I'm going to be changing the presentation of those a bit, too.

Steven Lang mentions that he' been working on Project Armageddon for six years.  He also states that the Trask's had the right idea.  That perhaps implies that he was inspired to start the project by their example, which would seem to contradict our time line.  Maybe not, though.  Maybe the Sentinels took a few years to develop (hardly a ridiculous thought) and Lang knew about them for a while before Trask went public.


Tuesday 1st September, 1981.



Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.68 standard years.

(Iceman is 29 years old)

Contemporary Events

German architect and former Nazi minister Albert Speer dies of natural causes during a visit to London, a death that presumably bothered absolutely no-one except, apparently, Lars von Trier.

Standout Line

"Ten years o' psycho-training. O' hypnotism. O' drug therapy. Ten years o' prayin'... An' I cut him to pieces without a thought." Apparently Claremont already knows where he's going with Wolverine.  Of course, how can we know whether any of that is even true?

Thursday, 22 September 2011

UXM #95: "Warhunt!"

("Better to burn out than fade away.")


Ah, here it is. This is not the first time an X-Man has died, but it is the first time an X-Man has died on panel, whilst we knew who he was, and without it being taken back a couple of years later.  Thunderbird, almost uniquely at this point, was the One Who Stayed Dead.

It's hard to feel much emotion over Proudstar's passing, partially because he was only introduced two issues previously, and partially because his death is so monumentally stupid (as Banshee points out more than once, he could easily have taken out Nefaria's jet had John not been blocking his shot).  And whenever people talk about events like this proving "no-one is safe", I always wonder who they think they're fooling.  As with so much of fiction, it takes no intellectual heft whatsoever to recognise asymmetrical risk when you see it.  It's like how the X-books have gone out of their way for decades to do as much horrendous damage to Wolverine as possible every couple of issues.  No-one's under any illusions that anyone else is going to get burned alive, or shot through the skull [1], or what have you, because we know the only reason it happens to Wolverine is that it doesn't matter.

Same with Thunderbird, poor sod.  He died precisely because hardly anyone would give a shit.  Harsh, but there you go.

Beyond the ending, which might at least have been surprising had it not been alluded to on the front cover, there's not much to this issue beyond the X-Men entering Valhalla base and beating up the Ani-Men.  Only the initial free-fall is worthy of note, and only then because it makes absolutely no sense - the " impact minus X seconds" conceit apparently leads to Cyclops daydreaming for almost a minute, then briefly starts running backwards.  It's also always annoyed me that Nightcrawler complains he can't teleport whilst falling (though the idea his momentum doesn't change with his location is nice) but doesn't think to do it once Storm has grabbed him.  It just feels like an arbitrary ramping of tension so that Banshee can swoop in at the last second, and all of that is before you consider that a fall (sans parachute) of 100 seconds would require that the X-Men start about six kilometres up in the air, which is clearly not the case.

(Yes, I did the maths. Shut up.)


This issue takes place over the course of a few hours.


Sunday 7th December, 1980.



Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 4.53 standard years.

(Iceman is 26 years old)

Contemporary Events

Darby Crash, lead singer of the Germs (a punk band which also included Pat Smear, who went on to play guitar with Nirvana and the Foo Fighters) dies of an intentional heroin overdose, aged 22.

Standout Line
"I've been a loner all my life, Xavier -- an outcast -- dumped on by everybody I met -- but I'm a man, Xavier, a warrior of the Apache -- an' today I'm gonna prove it!!" John Proudstar, last words.

[1] With the honorable exception of "Messiah CompleX", which fooled me brilliantly by shooting Logan through the head towards the end, made me roll my eyes about how it just so happened to have been the one X-Man who could survive that without any long term injuries, and then did the same thing to Xavier a few pages later.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Ice Core Dating Method

Not so much an announcement as an explanation, really; over the weekend I was asked how exactly the Iceman Age Equivalence Measure is supposed to work.

So here's the deal, kids.  Bobby referred to himself as sixteen years old back in the very first X-Men issue.  Out here in The Real, that was forty-eight years and eleven days ago, or 17 543 days.  Using the compression constant calculated in this morning's post, we estimate that it's been 17543/4.43 = 3960.05 days since UXM #1 within Marvel continuity.  That's somewhat shy of eleven years, which puts Iceman's age at 26 (at a minimum, it's possible he could be 27).

That's the maths out of the way.  The picture is always of someone who is the same age as Iceman, according to the most recent calculation.  Often the pictures are a little out of date (or a lot out of date, in the case of Macaulay Culkin), but the basic idea is to show a photo of someone who either could "be" Iceman (to a greater or lesser extent), someone who it amuses me to think of as playing Iceman (e.g. Gareth Gates, Rachel McAdams, R2-D2), or someone who is Christina Hendricks.

I hope that clears everything up for you all.

UXM #94: "The Doomsmith Scenario!"

(Cats, blackbirds, and wolverines.)


And so... it begins!  Chris Claremont has arrived to mould the X-Men according to his vision, and in doing so create the bedrock that still holds up the series to this day.

First item on the agenda is writing out the '60s X-Men - all but Cyclops.  I always thought their reason for leaving - to "live their own lives" made absolutely no sense, but since the book couldn't really support thirteen mutants simultaneously (Sunfire having already quit like a bitch, as mentioned yesterday), I can see why it had to be done.  At least Cyclops refusal to leave, ostensibly because of his fear of hurting people, though I don't think we're supposed to believe that, works well.  Jean doesn't come across as too sensitive, though. "Now that you've risked your life to save us, I'm abandoning your surrogate father.  You coming, or do you just never want to see me naked?"

But Scott stays, and it's a good job he did, because after a few weeks of putting the new team through their paces in the Danger Room (featuring the welcome return of the world's gayest robot), Count Nefaria suddenly appears on the scene and swipes control of the US nuclear missile system.  Nefaria has to be one of the most brilliant super-villains around.  It takes a unique kind of twisted genius to put together a team of henchmen that make this bunch look impressive:

but dammit if he wasn't the little Count that could.  The ani-men make his last bunch of back-stabbing doofuses look like the Sinister Six.  Sure, Gort's strength is handy, and I presume Croaker has some kind of advantage as regards agility, but what about the others?  Dragonfly is so stupid she can't even remember the Count sent them to NORAD in the first place, the guy with an eagle's head doesn't say anything, and what the hell was Nefaria thinking when he decided the best superpower for his cat-man was the ability to grow a ginger beard?

Good job he has Valhalla's defences to fall back on, I guess.  Scratch one X-jet! 

(It got identified as an SR-71 Blackbird this issue, as well, though it doesn't really look much like one.  We can now officially begin our count of the number of Blackbirds the X-Men manage to total over the years).


This issue begins the day after the X-Men return from Krakoa, but between that mission and their departure for Valhalla, the team go through weeks of training.  The phrase "week in, week out" suggests a fair amount of time has passed.  We also need to consider how long it takes for Hank to get to Canada, fight the Hulk, and become an Avenger.  We'll assume the training takes a full month, then. 

That puts us into early December, but I think we can get away with that, the green trees we see in this issue seem to be evergreen in any case.


Friday 7th November to Sunday 7th December, 1980.


 X+2Y+221 to X+2Y+251.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 4.43 standard years.

(Iceman is 26 years old)

"Listen, midget, one more word
out of you and..."
Contemporary Events

Voyager I passes Saturn.

A TV record is set by the number of people who tune into Dallas to learn who shot J.R.

Ryan Gosling and John Terry are born, and Mae West passes away.

Standout Line

"The Avengers couldn't make it.  We're the X-Men."  Poor Scott.  He spends three years of his life fighting evil, and all it gets him is a job as ringleader to the Avengers' understudies.  Not to mention the fact that said superhero team have already allowed one of his former subordinates to join, due to him having the special power of Being Very Blue.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Giant Size X-Men #1: "Second Genesis"

(The kaleidoscope of racism)


We're here at last: the dawn of what we now understand the X-Men to be.  Admittedly, we've still 15 issues of Hidden Years to look at, along with the conclusion to First Class Finals, but whilst I wait for those books to arrive in the post (or manifest themselves on E-bay), we must forge onward.

A lot has been made of the international flavour of the second generation of X-Men, which is hardly surprising.  Of the seven new mutants to be recruited by Xavier, only one was born within the borders of the US, and as a resident of an Apache reservation, it's fairly clear John "Thunderbird" Proudstar would not consider himself to be an "American" as the term is generally understood (which is to say, he very much considers himself American, but sees Xavier and Cyclops as "white-eyed" interlopers).

In all this talk of race and nationality, though, the more important change is often overlooked.  With the introduction of the new team, the book is no longer about five teenagers who follow their mentors orders to the letter, but about eight characters in their early twenties through to (seemingly) their late thirties at the very least, who all have their own motivations for joining the team.

In short, the book is now stuffed full of conflict, both over the tactics best suited to getting the job done, and the strategy that should be being employed in the first place. "Second Genesis" makes this very clear once the neophyte X-Men arrive on Krakoa by having Cyclops split the group into four pairs, each of which (barring Storm and Colossus) consists of one team-player, and one surly, objectionable turd.

After all, there's no logical reason for splitting the team up - having them advance on the centre of the island from four different directions seems ludicrously counter-productive (rescue missions rarely requiring the target be surrounded) - so it must have been done to allow us to understand what is happening.  The age of bickering and insubordination has begun.

I've discussed this at length over at the other blog, of course, as part of my attempts to deconstruct the '90s X-books and work out exactly what went wrong during that decade (not that I think it was as bad as some do).  Ironically, given that I blame him for so much of what made those years sometimes tiresome, Wolverine actually comes off the best of the three designated dickheads here, appearing to be (as he is) a man willing to give his all to complete the mission, just with little interest in other people's opinions about how to do it.  In contrast, Thunderbird and (especially) Sunfire are little more than argumentative children, constantly reiterating their disinterest in being part of a situation they volunteered for mere hours before.

Indeed, this is part of the fundamental problem of the book.  Let's consider the original series of Star Trek for a moment. I once saw Nichelle Nichols tell, with visible emotion, a story about the day Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. approached her, and told her that Star Trek was one of the few shows he allowed his children to watch because it, almost uniquely for US television during the '60s, neither excluded black characters, nor made an issue of their presence.

He was right.  One of the great strengths of ST:TOS is how little interest it had in pointing to its black comms officer, or its Asian helmsman.  There is perhaps some mileage to be had in an argument that says writing Sulu and Uhura as being indistinguishable from white characters (which, by and large, they most certainly did) brings its own set of problems, but in the context of the era and the surrounding culture, I think the show deserves a lot of respect (c.f. the hideous back-slapping atrocity of "Far Beyond the Stars" DS9 offered up thirty years later) .

The point here is that it isn't enough to put together a multiracial cast of characters.  You also have to not spend all your time sticking flashing arrows above those characters with their origins written on in neon. 

The amount of noble gas expended in the thirty seven pages of Giant Size X-Men could have been used to make Las Vegas visible from high orbit.  Banshee can't go two sentences without a "Begorrah!" or a "Sure'n it looks like...", and I'm not sure how comfortable we should be with the idea that an African tribe would worship a mutant as a god (though that's not really something I know enough to comment on), but it's Sunfire and Thunderbird, with their constant refusal to simply do what they'd agreed to without endless petty sniping, who get the most raw deal.  Sunfire, just as he was five years earlier, is portrayed as a stereotypical arrogant, gaijin-hating, honour-obsessed Japanese citizen, and his simultaneous loathing for Westerners and desire to prove himself worthy of the Bushido code apparently compel to him join up, quit, and then join up again, all entirely without reason (naturally, in the next issue, he quits). 

Thunderbird, though, is in a league of his own. Every analogy he makes involves Custer or his last stand - because clearly Little Bighorn is the only thing an Apache would think about or reference - but the real problem only arrives when Xavier gets him to sign up by essentially calling him chicken.  "What will this Apache hate more", asks the subtext, "the white man, or his own people's miserable shell of an existence?"

It's not that I can't imagine a Native American who would look at his people's situation and find it lacking, or even that he would blame them for it.  It's just the idea that a Caucasian could use those feelings to manipulate the Native American to do exactly what they wanted that leaves an excessively sour taste in the mouth, especially when you realise that a white writer is using a white character to tell an Apache that he needs to prove that his people are still worthy of respect.

In fairness, both Wolverine and Nightcrawler escape any kind of cultural pigeonholing, and Colossus' dedication to the ideals of Communism is presented without comment.  So it's not all bad.  There are definitely issues that need to be resolved, though. Which, I suppose, they are.  In an ideal world, that wouldn't have required Sunfire leaving and Thunderbird getting himself exploded, but I guess we have to learn to compromise.

Bloody hell, that was pretty long.  Also in this issue, the X-Men fight an island, and win by firing it into space.  The end.


I did a little bit of number crunching regarding Xavier's international tour. Assuming his recruitment meetings with the new X-Men happen in chronological order (which mainly isn't too stupid, though starting with Nightcrawler adds one more trans-Atlantic flight than is necessary), his trip comes in at somewhere around thirty thousand miles.  Without stopping, and on a good day, that's a trip of about 21 hours in an SR Blackbird.  Of course, the X-Men don't have a Blackbird yet (though the stratoo-jet they are flying can get to a Pacific island from New York in just over two hours), and we have to factor in Xavier's journeys from airports/airstrips, refueling times, the human need for food and sleep, and so on.

All told, it's probably at least conceivable that the whole operation took three days.  The "second" Krakoa mission (actually the third, of course) then takes place on the fourth day.

Of course, that's four days (at least) since Xavier set out to recruit the international team.  Thanks to "Deadly Genesis", we know there was a period in between the team's disappearance and Cyclops' return, in which a different set of new X-Men travelled to Krakoa, and were seemingly all butchered.

Whilst I'm trying to read these comics in approximate chronological order within the Marvel Universe, "Deadly Genesis" is a difficult case, because the six-issue series deals with events in two different time periods.  We'll leave the actual issues of that story until we get to their "present day" position (assuming my will to live/increasingly battered liver/human civilisation survives that long), but I've re-read the flashbacks in an attempt to determine how long this onetime-forgotten slice of X-Men history is.

As I understand it, Xavier heads to Moira's New York facility more or less as soon as the original X-Men vanish.  He recruits Moira's charges either that night or the following one, and they all head back to Westchester, presumably the next morning.  The Professor then gives each of them a telepathic crash-course in combat training, and they leave for Krakoa on the morning after.

All told, then, from the first time an X-jet heads for Krakoa to the return journey made by the thirteen surviving mutants, we're looking at about a week.  Our next job is to ensure the story matches up with Beast's adventures over in Amazing Adventures.  Since we saw the original X-Men discussing Hank in AMA #15, this story has to take place after that.  Following standard procedure, then, let's assume the first mission to Krakoa took place on the day after Angel and Beast fought the Griffin. 


Tuesday 4th to Friday 7th November, 1980.


X+2Y+ 218 to X+2Y+221.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 4.35 standard years.

(Iceman is 27 years old)

"Never let it be said that Icemen aren't
 good for something, Angel!"
Contemporary Events

Ronald Reagan beats Jimmy Carter on November 4th, securing his place as the 40th President of the United States.

Steve McQueen dies, aged 50, from cancer brought on by asbestos exposure.

Standout Line

"Can you help me to be normal?"  Nightcrawler himself eventually comes to think that this is a stupid question to have asked Xavier, but I've always loved this line.  It's a wonderful reminder that for a great many mutants involved with the X-Men, all they're really fighting for is the right to just be left alone.