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.
1 Marvel year = 3.45 standard years.
(Iceman is 29 years old.)
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.
"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.