Monday, 31 October 2011

UXM #124: "He Only Laughs When I Hurt!"


(Unconventional is unprofessional.)

Comments

Hang on a second.  Black Tom and Juggy paid Arcade six million dollars to do in the X-Men?  Where did those two bozos score that kind of scratch?  More to the point, why aren't they keeping it?  Revenge has always been the default villainous motivation in superhero comics (seriously, you would not believe the shit people are prepared to swear blood oaths over in these things), but I simply refuse to believe that those two wouldn't want to do the job themselves, after blowing the six thousand grand on booze and hookers.

Of course, none of this is particularly surprising given the ridiculous nature of this story.  Arcade's origin - lose stipend from wealthy father, kill wealthy father, become international assassin - manages to both be horribly cliche and totally idiotic, and his traps have devolved into silly pop-culture references (Battlestarwars: 1999 ?).  By the time Cyclops and Storm break Colossus' mental conditioning by the power of love, I would have found it easier to believe that someone would scrape together $6,000,000 to kill Chris Claremont.

And what happens to all that money now Arcade has let the X-Men go out of some twisted concept of logic?  Do Tom and Marko just get it back?  Are we supposed to believe he's really so much better than any other assassin out there that people pay him to murder their foes so long as he feels like it?  How the fuck is that supposed to work as a business model?

Clues

This issue follows on directly from the last one, and continues into dawn of the following day.

Date

Monday 14th to Tuesday 15th of September, 1982.

X-Date

X+4Y+168 to X+4Y+169.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.57 standard years.

(Storm is 35 years old.)

"Must remember my training --
stay in control, stay alive!"
Contemporary Events

The President-elect of Lebanon, Bachir Gemayel, is assassinated by a member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, who claimed Gemayel had "sold the country to Israel".

Standout Line

"He aims and fires with barely a conscious thought... trusting to a unique, inborn talent for spatial geometry -- honed by months of practice in the Danger Room -- that makes him aware of every car in the room... and tells him exactly what firing angle will enable him to destroy them all with a single optic blast."

Fuck.  Off.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

UXM #123: "Listen -- Stop Me If You've Heard It -- But This One Will Kill You!"


(Literally no-one thinks you're funny.)

Comments

It must be hard to be Spider-Man (beyond spending your life being hammered by super-villains and still not make enough money to move your dinner dates out of the fast food range).  Everyone focuses on your web-slinging powers and your... "acquired taste" one-liners.  No-one stops twice to think about the kick-ass detective powers.  Identifying Arcade's garbage-truck-cum-kidnap-hoover from the sound it makes sucking up superheroes?  That's some Hercule Poirot shit, and no mistake.  Shame your skills don't stretch to prompt phone calls, huh? 

For today, Arcade makes his move.  With Scott dealt with, his minions steal first Nightcrawler and Colossus (proof, were it needed, that going to ballet is a plan of horribly limited quality), and then move on to Wolverine (who's now dating Mariko - awww!  I hope that never goes wrong!).  Arcade himself turns up to snaffle Banshee and a nearly naked Storm (I'm sure that's just a coincidence....). and the games begin.

And what games they are!  Such panache!  Such thrills!  Such... Stukas?

Yeah, I can't keep this up anymore.  Arcade sucks.  I assume he's supposed to run along similar lines to the Joker, but the comparison really doesn't work.  The Joker is imaginative, not merely zany.  More importantly, it's almost impossible to imagine anyone in charge of their cognitive faculties wanting to pay the Joker to kill anybody.  You might as well spend the cash tattoing an intricate Celtic knot archery target on your arse.  The Joker works according to twisted rules only he can comprehend.  Arcade is just shitty at his job.

Still, at least he's hypnotised Colossus into thinking he's a working man's superhero known as "the Proletarian":


So I guess the next issue won't be a total loss.

Clues

The events of this issue take place over several hours.

The opening narration places this story in springtime.  We've discussed at great length why that's impossible in an absolute sense, but that doesn't prevent us from using it to consider the time between this issue and the last. Were the dates of the last five issues were workable, there would be 85 days between them.  Were we to assume the same thing, putting this issue in the first week of November.

Banshee, however, mentions that the restoration of the mansion's facilities has taken weeks, not months.  We could deal with this disparity by increasing time periods elsewhere, either between UXM #119 and #120 or UXM #121 and #122. The latter would make sense, since it gives more time for Cyclops' battle with the Living Monolith, and because one can't imagine Sunfire making for much of a host, his country's debt to the X-Men notwithstanding.

We'll therefore add one week between #121 and #122 (any longer and Nightcrawler would have to be slacking on the job to spend so long figuring out the X-Jet was screwed), and three more between last issue and this.  Ir's not a perfect solution, admittedly, but I'm beginning to forget what those look like in any case.

Date

Monday 14th of September, 1982.

X-Date

X+4Y+168.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.55 standard years.

(Storm is 35 years old.)

"AARRRGH!!"
Contemporary Events

Grace Kelly passes away, aged 52.

Standout Line

""Sflanng"?!  Where have I heard that bef -- Arcade!!" - Spiderman.  The man's a phenomenon.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

UXM #122: "Cry For The Children!"


(Russell Brand: The Early Years, or, My Skaggy-Wag)

Comments

This, at last, is the very first X-Men issue to provide what Claremont eems to have been wanting since the very earliest stages of his run: an X-Men story entirely devoid of superhero conflict.  The closest we come is Colossus' efforts in the industrial vice which appears on the cover (short version: he keeps whining that he can't do it until Wolverine jumps in with him, forcing him to actually do something rather than forever complaining about not being able to do it), and Storm's rather minor use of her powers to put the wind up (no pun intended) some teenage skag-heads.

Indeed, since that latter encounter is the closest this issue comes to an A plot (it's really more of a series of vignettes than anything else, not that there's anything wrong with that), it seems odd that it's Colossus on the cover. I guess it looks more exciting than having Storm looming over barely post-pubescent heroin addicts.  I also dimly remember reading somewhere that having a female be the only superhero on a cover was a definite no-no until more recently than you'd think.  A quick scan of the covers to this point demonstrate that it has indeed not happened, though in fairness well over 90% of the covers feature multiple team members, so there's not much data to go on.

Anyway, Storm's confrontation is definitely the most interesting aspect to the issue, as she finally has to consider the possibility that there are some problems that no superhero can possibly solve, however powerful, and that beneath skies burning with the pyrotechnics of her and her kind, humanity is doing a fine job of eating itself without help from the Skrulls, or the Brotherhood, or HYDRA.  It's not exactly a happy thought, but it's an important one to bear in mind.

In other news, Angus McWhirter's disappearance (he was attacked by forces unknown on Muir Island at the end of UXM #119) has now been noted, Colleen Wing has clearly fallen hard for Cyclops (apparently the way to deal with emotionally depressed men is to give them keys to your apartment and hope for the best), Jean has been targetted by "Jason Wyngarde" (who we already know is Mastermind from his shadow", Wolverine discovers Mariko has arrived in New York, Banshee and Nightcrawler try to fix the mothballed Blackbird, Charles watches on Imperial Center as Lilandra is crowned Empress, and Black Tom and Juggernaut have hired the assasssin Arcade for a very special assignment: kill the X-Men.  Whew!

Clues

This story takes place over approximately a day.

Cyclops mentions battling the Living Monolith with Colleen Wing after they returned to the States.  The issue in which that confrontation took place is missing from the online archive, so there's no way to tell how long that story was, but let's set aside a full day for it.

Date

Monday 17th of August, 1982.


X-Date

X+4Y+140.


Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.59 standard years.

(Storm is 35 years old).

"No not threaten me, child."
Contemporary Events
The German public become the first to gain commercial access to the newly-created CD.

Mark Salling is born, best known for becoming one of those responsible for the insane hyperglycemic auto-tuned audio-visual nightmare known in terrified whispers as Glee.

Standout Line

"They live in a society more concerned about cagin' 13-year-olds for life than tryin' to give 'em a decent chance." - Luke Cage.  Not the most poetic phrasing possible, but it remains so miserably true that it's worth picking out in any case.

Friday, 28 October 2011

UXM #121: "Shoot-Out At The Stampede!"


(The Shortstuff Redemption.)

Comments

Heh.  You can tell John Bryne is "co-plotter" on this outing - within two pages we're treated to an entirely pointless run through the story so far as Cyclops "thinks back" over how the X-Men got to where they are now.  It's as clunky as ever (though mercifully shorter than usual), and made all the worse by Scott's fond recollecting taking place in the middle of breaking into Alpha Flight's supposed field HQ.  I rather doubt that's how they do it in the SAS.

Mind you, Alpha Flight aren't exactly models of professionalism either.  Vindicator's negotiation style rivals Sunfire's for petulant combativeness, Snowbird attempts to defeat a woman capable of shattering her bones with lightning or tearing her apart with a hurricane by turning into an owl (which is the size of an Alsatian, admittedly, but even so...) and Michael Twoyoungmen uses the mystical forces bequeathed by his grandfather to create a snowstorm so fierce it threatens to destroy the entire country. Even if Wolvie hadn't quit out of a desire for freedom, this sextet of worthless chumps would have driven him out of Canada faster than a Celine Dion homecoming concert.

The freak storm becomes such a problem that Storm has to almost entirely drain herself in order to sort everything out.  Northstar demonstrates his gratitude by suckerpunching her, because Northstar was and is a classless dickhead.  For a moment the fight halted by Storm's actions looks like it's going to start up again, but Wolverine chooses the most surprising moment possible (i.e. just as Cyclops is going to punch Northstar's teeth out for his indescribable cuntishness) to announce he'll go quietly in exchange for safe conduct for his teammates.  Vindicator agrees, and the Canadian government send their finest Wolverine-proof paddy wagon to pick up everyone's favourite killer midget.

The X-Men board their battered plane with a sense of dejection, but Cyclops isn't done yet.  He announces his plan to immediately return to break Logan out, only to find there's no need - Wolverine's aboard! He cut his wait out of his cage almost instantly, and snuck back to the jet before anyone else knew what had happened.

That's pretty damn cool right there.  Not just the effortless nature of his escape (Claremont still doesn't seem entirely sure whether to write the team as spirited rookies or supremely competent super-heroes, but we certainly know which way the wind is blowing regarding Wolverine), but his total disinterest in keeping his word.  It's a very unheroic thing to do, which of course is exactly why it's so right that Logan would do it.

Clues

This story takes place over the course of about an hour, and starts a few hours after the last issue ended.

We're once gain told that it's winter (see my previous post as to why that's ridiculous) and that it's been months since Vindicator last tried to abduct Wolverine, which is at least something that we can agree on.

Date

Sunday 15th of August, 1982.


X-Date

X+4Y+138.


Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.58 standard years.

(Storm is 35 years old).

"Strain was pure... murder."
Contemporary Events

Turkish-Armenian Artin Penik sets himself on fire and dies as a protest against terrorist actions by Armenian separatists.

Standout Line

"You may be a match for my human form, woman.  But can even you stand against --  giant Arctic owl!" Yes, Snowbird.  Yes she can.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

UXM #120: "Wanted: Wolverine! Dead Or Alive!"


(Our friends in the North.)

Comments

Has it come at last?  After these many years of comics, have we finally arrived at Alpha Flight's first ever humiliating beatdown?

Well, not yet.  It would hardly be a two-parter if the X-Men won the first round, would it (let's forget about those Mandroids from last time, huh?).  This issue is very clearly the set-up for what is liable to be an extended fracas.

We begin back in Japan, where Wolverine is trying to say goodbye to Mariko without scaring her, and Shiro is trying to say goodbye to the X-Men without being a big old dick about it.  Both of them just about manage it, and the team board a jet back to the States.  Scott gets a chance to snuggle up to Colleen Wing (nothing like a kung-fu kicking grand-niece to the Japanese Premier to help you get over your dead crazy girlfriend/cosmic nuclear warhead), but their pass over Calgary becomes rather hazardous when an artificial blizzard strikes.

The Canadians have apparently decided they want Wolverine back again (presumably it took them this long to scrape the Canuck dollars together to give it another try), and as their opening bid in re-signing him is to have Sasquatch throw his plane into a building.  I'd think that slightly too hard of a hard-ball, but maybe he's met Logan before.

Unfortunately for Alpha Flight, Cyclops is one step ahead of them.  Storm saves the day for the thirty-seventh time by turning Shaman's blizzard against them, and the X-Men disappear into Calgary with instructions to meet beneath a tower Scott sees in the distance.

Colossus and Cyclops make it, along with the various other non-mutants from the jet.  Nightcrawler and Wolverine are less lucky, and find themselves captured.  Banshee and Storm, in defiance of all possible logic, decide to go shopping.

I am not even slightly kidding.  On the run shadowy government forces (even if that government is Canadian), and with specific instructions to rendezvous with the team so that they can get their hunted friend out of the country, Storm decides to go shopping for clothes despite having a costume that can change into anything. It might not be so bad if Colleen's "disguise" excuse held water, but beyond Storm's instant costume change ability, the girls are simply far too interested in ensuring Storm is happy with her outfit for that to be remotely convincing.  All that saves them from arrest at the hands of Vindicator is Hudson's amazingly ham-fisted attack.  Smashing through the ceiling of a shopping centre and then looking for the source of the signal does not a stealthy approach make, and Storm punishes him accordingly, with a hurricane to the chops.

Meanwhile, at the tower rendezvous, Cyclops and Colossus are getting completely antsy, what with not knowing Ororo and Sean have taken time off for retail therapy.  Scott promises that Alpha Flight will never take his teammates except over his dead body, and has Misty call in her greatest allies: the lawyers!

To be continued...

Clues

This story takes place over the course of several hours. 

Scott refers to the previous attack by "Major Maple Leaf" as taking place "last summer".  Since that happened in UXM #109, that puts the gap between UXM #103 and UXM #104 at around six months.  Further proof, were it needed, that Claremont is re-writing the laws of temporal physics as he goes.  Well, that or the X-Men took half a year off in Ireland, and Magneto was on extended sabbatical whilst, y'know, locked in Moira's box.

The Canadian Prime Minister featured in this issue is either meant to be Pierre Trudeau (the actual holder of the office at that time), or a clear homage.

Date

Sunday 15th of August, 1982.


X-Date

X+4Y+138.


Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.56 standard years.

(Storm is 35 years old).

"You spoke once of power.  Little man, you do not know the meaning of the word!"
Contemporary Events

Alex Teorell, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1955 for the discovery of the oxidation enzyme and its effects, passes away, aged 79.

Standout Line

"Mariko-chan, watashi wa Logan desu." - Wolverine.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

UXM #119: "'Twas The Night Before Christmas..."


(No it fucking 'twasn't.)

Comments

The majority of this issue us an extended action scene, which as usual means there's strict limits on what can really be said.  The two primary takeaways from the team's assault on Magnum's base in the Kuril Islands are that a) the team is finally operating as a well-honed unit, and b) Moses Magnum is a goddamned idiot.

Using Nightcrawler as a teleporting homing device for an underground attack - using Cyclops and Sunfire as tunnellers - whilst Storm and Banshee run interference is a pretty good plan, especially given their usual tactics of either charging forward one at a time or just waiting around to get beaten around the head.

On the other hand, Magnum seems determined to ruin his own plan.  Halfway through effortlessly beating the mutated tar out of the X-Men, he decides he doesn't want to "waste his power", and sends the Mandroids in again. Because clearly the one element missing in them defeating the X-Men last time was the lack of lack of surprise.  Once that fails, rather than killing the X-Men immediately, he decides to sink Japan instead, because apparently getting the ransom he's put months of work into acquiring doesn't interest him anymore. I guess the "arcane" combination of earthquake, laser and suit tech that first gave him super-powers rather did a number on his brain-pan.

Just because he's clearly an idiot doesn't mean he isn't dangerous, of course, and Banshee steps up to plate to stop him.  The resulting sonic-virbation-off destroys Magnum's base and hurls him out to sea (where presumably the X-Men believe he presumably dies) , but Banshee lapses into a coma.  Everyone else escapes (due to Storm's new-found and entirely unexplained ability to carry three people at once), but Sean is laid up in hospital for more than a week and a half.  He returns to the X-Men almost entirely unable to speak, and they rather cruelly exacerbate the situation by pretenfding that it's Christmas.  For shame!

At least it's not all bad.  Storm's realisation that the team has become more like a family, and her subsequent admission to Nightcrawler about how much she loves him, is genuinely rather sweet ang quite affecting.  As the X-Men finally come to an end (at least potentially) of the string of complications and encounters that began with their abduction by Magneto, there's a real sense of peace in the air.

Except on Muir Island - where Jean is headed after her long vacation - upon which the embittered owner of a hovercraft the X-Men totalled (back in UXM# 104) comes looking for revenge, but finds only... death!

Clues

This story starts several hours after the end of the last issue, and takes place over eleven days.

According to this issue, Banshee recovers from his ordeal (at least enough to leave the hospital) on Christmas Day. This places the X-Men's initial rescue in Drake's Passage at the start of November, and their abduction by Magneto in mid-October.  This is an extension of the same problem we've come across before, of course: it relies on UXM #110 to be the only recorded adventure in eight months.

Given this, then, I don't think I have any choice but to activate my first Christmas veto.  I shall keep a separate count of X-Xmases, so as to log what has been ignored, but this particular festive season must be the first to feel my wrath.  In this context, at least.

Date

Tuesday 3rd to Saturday 14th of August, 1982.


X-Date

X+4Y+126 to X+4Y+137.


Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.54 standard years.

(Storm is 35 years old).

"We began as... loners.  And have grown into a family."
X-Xmases

2

Contemporary Events

The UNSC votes to censure Israel over its failure to remove its troops from Lebanon.

Mexico triggers a debt crisis throughout Latin America by announcing it cannot pay its debts.

Henry Fonda passes away, aged 77.

Standout Line

"Kurt? I just wanted to tell you... that I love you very, very much." - Ororo.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

UXM #118: "The Submergence Of Japan!"

(Learnin’ Japanese.)
Comments
Well, that can’t be good.  From the view out in Tokyo Bay it rather looks like the whole of the city is on fire, and potentially much of Honshu as well.  The X-Men leap into action (I notice Banshee is perfectly capable of carrying two people at once now that the script doesn’t require someone to fall almost to their death), helping out the rescue services working throughout the city.  In all honesty, though, for all their power, the X-Men are pretty much just pissing in the wind.  That’s not quite so bad when you have someone who can change the direction of that wind for you, but it’s still a problem.  About the best thing that can be said for the situation is that most of the city is uninhabited, having been evacuated (as Wolverine reveals, demonstrating his ability to read Japanese) following a major earthquake warning.
The X-Men decide to fight their way through the blaze to get to the mansion of their former comrade Shiro Yoshida - AKA Sunfire – in the arguably rather naive hope that he’ll prove to be less of a feckless turf when his own turf is in trouble.
Maybe you can blame the team for trying to sneak in under the cover of fog, but it’s certainly hypothesis rejected on that score.  If the Home Islands have to burn in order for Shiro to not have to stop calling the X-Men “cunts”, then Nihon is just shit out of luck.  It’s fortunate (though also impossibly convenient) that Misty Knight is also on the scene to inject a degree of Western pragmatism into the proceedings, and she quickly ushers our heroes into the mansion to meet Osama-San, Japan’s premier, along with Misty Knight’s partner (and apparently Osama’s niece) Colleen Wing. Cyclops suffers through a very uncomfortable meeting, conducted entirely in Japanese, in which Colleen argues the case for her and her fellow Americans, and Shiro shifts up a few gears with his belligerent, childish arrogance.  “My power alone is sufficient to protect Nippon!” he insists, as though everyone else has failed to notice that there’s only one person in the room who’s already conclusively proved they couldn’t save Tokyo, and it’s him.
Whilst Sunfire is demanding there be a few less super-powered Americans about the place, Misty tries to get hold of a couple more, only to learn that her beau Iron Fist is too busy working cases with Power Man.  Way to manage your priorities there, pal.  I’d have thought the destruction of one of the world’s largest capital cities and the massive danger your girlfriend is facing as a result might trump your bromance with Luke Cage.  But that’s just me.
Speaking of affairs of the heart, though, UXM #118 is proud to present: Lady Mariko.  Continuing our long-running series of raising our eyebrows at the portrayal of women in this comic, it’s slightly weird seeing Logan (or “Lo-“, as we finally learn) treating Mariko like a nervous doe, but I suppose from his warped perspective that actually makes sense. It’s definitely nice to see a different side to Wolverine, in any case. 
Tragically, this international moment of zen is rudely interrupted by another earthquake, one which pretty much destroys the mansion, and which Storm announces has been artificially ignited. Things go from bad to worse ( in several senses) when the deliriously stupid-lookin’ “Mandroids” arrive to “escort” the government officials to meet their master.  Unsurprisingly, the X-Men take exception to this proposal, and a battle breaks out.
For possibly the first time since this new team was assembled, the X-Men finally demonstrate a truly impressive level of ability, and the Mandroids are shattered and smoking within a few panels.  The team’s victory is short-lived, though, as a hologram of Moses Magnum appears from the shell of a Mandroid and announces that at midnight tomorrow, he’ll drop Japan into the Indian Ocean.
Dun dun duh!
Clues
This issue takes place over a single night.  It crosses the line of midnight, but only just, which means it all happens within a single US day.
The narration tells us that the journey of the Jinguichi Maru took six weeks after picking up the X-Men.

"If I were not, I would have kept silent."
Contemporary Events
Fiftieth anniversary of the discovery of the positron by Carl D Anderson.
Standout Line
“We need no American lady detectives!” – Sunfire.
Date


Monday 2nd of August, 1982.


X-Date

X+4Y+125.


Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.55 standard years.

(Storm is 35 years old.)

Monday, 24 October 2011

Timeline: 1982 (Take 2)

January

1st   UXM 101: Like a Phoenix from the Ashes!
2nd UXM 101: Like a Phoenix from the Ashes!
3rd  UXM 101: Like a Phoenix from the Ashes!
4th  UXM 101: Like a Phoenix from the Ashes!
5th  UXM 101: Like a Phoenix from the Ashes!
6th  UXM 101: Like a Phoenix from the Ashes!
6th  UXM 102: Who Will Stop the Juggernaut?
6th  UXM 103: The Fall of the Tower

February

8th    UXM 104: The Gentleman's Name is Magneto
8th    UXM 105: Phoenix Unleashed!
8th    UXM 106: Dark Shroud of the Past (present)
8th    UXM 107: Where no X-Man has Gone Before!
8th    UXM 108: Armageddon Now!
9th    UXM 108: Armageddon Now!
9th    UXM 109: Home are the Heroes!
10th  U1C 1: Refuge
10th  U1C 2: To Err is Inhuman...
12th  U1C 3: The Next Life
13th  U1C 3: The Next Life
19th  U1C 4: Sisters of the Dragon
19th  U1C 5: The Knights of Hykon
20th  U1C 5: The Knights of Hykon
20th  U1C 6: The Sky is Falling
20th  U1C 7: The Shattered World
20th  U1C 8: The Curse of Craeliach
21st  U1C 8: The Curse of Craeliach
22nd U1C 8: The Curse of Craeliach

April

8th  UXM 110: The 'X'-Sanction!

May

25th UXM 111: Mindgames!
25th UXM 112: Magneto Triumphant!
26th UXM 112: Magneto Triumphant!
29th UXM 113: Showdown!
29th UXM 114: Desolation
30th UXM 114: Desolation

June

1st   UXM 114: Desolation
2nd   UXM 114: Desolation
3rd   UXM 114: Desolation
4th   UXM 114: Desolation
5th   UXM 114: Desolation
5th   UXM 115: Visions of Death!
6th   UXM 115: Visions of Death!
7th   UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
8th   UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
9th   UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
10th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
11th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
12th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
13th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
14th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
15th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
16th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
17th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
18th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
19th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
20th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
21st UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
21st UXM #117: Psi War!

UXM #117: "Psi War!"


(Exploding head syndrome.)

Comments

When last we tuned in the X-Men went to see in a beautiful pea-green boat shitty raft that would probably get them all killed, especially when they manage to fling themselves straight into a rather lethal-looking squall.  Fortunately, Storm is able to blunt the, er, storm for long enough for the team to be spotted and rescued by the Jinguchi Maru, a Japanese vessel operating under strict (and from a plotting perspective, distinctly convenient) radio silence.

Most of this issue belongs to Professor X, though.  Understandably, he's having trouble coping with the apparent death of six of his X-Men, and all the bagels and coffee in the world don't seem to be helping.  Apparently, though, an almost entirely irrelevant extended flashback clumsily shoehorned into the ongoing narrative might just do the trick!

Xavier discusses the collapse of his relationship with Moira with admirable brevity: he was drafted, she promised to wait, then left him by letter - as he lay wounded in a hospital, no less - and asked he never try to speak to her again.

Man, that's some cold shit right there.

Charlie doesn't take too well to this development (and who can blame him), and decides to bum around first Europe and then Africa for a while.  Whilst in Cairo, a young girl who he later learns is Storm steals his wallet, and whilst chasing her (and ultimately recovering his wallet), he's punched in the brain-pan by an immensely strong and deeply malevolent psychic emanation from a nearby saloon.

The wielder of this vast telepathic power is none of than Amahl Farouk, the Shadow King, long-time tormentor of the X-Men and their allies, and who gets his first showing here.  Clad in a white suit, a magenta fez, and at least one spare tyre for one of the larger species of off-road vehicles, Farouk presents his villainous bona fides to Xavier in such an offhand, callous manner that Charlie swears on the spot that this mind-blasting manatee is going down.

Indeed, Xavier seems to go pretty quickly from "you will be brought to justice" to "I will explode your skull with mind-bullets!"  Maybe that's Farouk's influence, though.  He's certainly immensely powerful.  Whether he's more powerful than Xavier is an open question, but it's certainly a close call, and he clearly has the edge in experience.  Charles uses gladitorial combat as some kind of psychic metaphor for their true battle, but that limits him in how he can fight.  Like Neo's first sparring match with Morpheus, Xavier is crippled by not understanding the difference between the laws of reality and the laws of imagination. 

Fortunately, he works this out in time, mainly because the Shadow King is overconfident enough to blurt it out whilst they clash.  Xavier responds by marshalling his strength, offering no resistance as Farouk continues to threaten, and bluster, and create new and hideous images for Charles to look upon.  After a few seconds the disparity in expenditure has reached the necessary levels, and Xavier simply burns a hole through Farouk's mind, like a sniper ignoring incoming fire as they line up and take their shot.

One evil mutant down, then.  But how many to go?  With no way to answer that question, Xavier decides to found the X-Men (stopping off briefly along the way to get his legs crushed by an alien spy, as one does).  The rest, as they say, is history...

Clues

Urgh, this is where it all starts getting complicated.

Claremont has changed his mind since last issue.  The storm tossing the X-Men around as this story begins isn't "the worst winter storm in a century", it's actually a summer storm, for which Wolverine tells the team they should be grateful.  I suspect this is less likely an attempt to change at what point the story is supposed to be taking place, and more someone pointing out to Claremont that the seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere.

Confusing things still more, however, is the foliage at Xavier's mansion, which clearly shows that it's somewhere in mid-autumn right now.  But when Beast visited to check up on the suddenly silent X-Men, the foliage was still green, and that was only four weeks ago.

In other words, as far as the northern hemisphere is concerned, it's simultaneously winter and early and mid autumn.  Even if we consider early autumn as being correct, that still suggests ten months have passed since Jean became Phoenix in UXM # 101.

But how, exactly?  We know that Jean's transformation took place just after Christmas, and the X-Men fought the Juggernaut and Black Tom a week later (UXM #102-103).  They then visit Muir Island and clash with Magneto, which leads to a run of consecutive adventures that ends only after their visit to the Shi'ar galaxy (UXM #104-109).  Add in the similar run of adventures from UXM #111 and now, and the only possible explanation is that six months have gone unreported between UXM #103 and #104, and on either side of UXM #110.

We've talked about this before, but generally speaking, I tend to view any timeline that requires that a comic be moving more slowly through continuity than it is through its publication schedule, without specifically referencing it, has screwed up somewhere.  I've also mentioned the difficulty in increasing the distance between #103 and #104 any further, because a) it makes the X-Men's holiday at Cassidy Keep into a full-on sabbatical and b) it breaks the rhythm of the building Emperor D'Ken storyline too much.

There are alternatives, though.  The most obvious one is to note that we already had to assume Storm was keeping the mansion green through her powers, which makes it entirely plausible that the trees are turning brown now that she's gone.   Combine this with last issues description of the storm in the Drake Passage as being a winter one (another of our general rules: narration trumps dialogue as regards accuracy), and we can add just enough to the timeline to place this issue at the beginning of summer.  It's not ideal (and it's going to get a lot worse; we're headed for another Claremont Xmas), but it'll have to do.

(The issue itself takes place over the course of a few hours).

Date


Monday 21st of June, 1982.


X-Date

X+4Y+83.


Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.63 standard years.

(Storm is 35 years old.)

"Even my powers have their limits."
Contemporary Events

HRH Prince William is born.

Standout Line

"On a deserted side-street, I stopped her with a gentle force bolt." Pfft.  Whatever, Charlie.  "Force bolt."  Tell that shit to the judges.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

UXM #116: "To Save The Savage Land"


(Rock is dead.)

Comments

It's crunch time out in the Savage Land, as the frozen desert of Antarctica begins to work its way inward.  Cyclops has abandoned his original plan of heading off to check up on Xavier and coming back later; if the X-Men don't act now there won't be so much as a compsognathus left to save.

Unfortuntately, the X-Men arrive within sight of Garokk's gigantic metropolis (why is it every supervillain the X-Men face these days is able to call upon a host of futurism-loving architects and discreet building contractors) a little too late: the Petrified God has already assembled an airforce.  Admittedly, a pteranodon-based one that will be dead of hypothermia in a day or two, but an airforce nevertheless.  Perhaps being a little under-trained at fighting savage warriors atop aerial lizards (even Professor X can't predict everything), the battle goes badly, and most of the X-Men are abducted, along with Ka-Zar. 

Nightcrawler, Wolverine and Storm remain free, however, due to the rather draconian weight limits placed upon hand luggage for this lizard Luftwaffe.  Storm once again proves herself the most resourceful X-Man by far by setting up a power headwind, ensuring that they can reach the city on foot almost as quickly as the savages can by air.  Getting inside doesn't prove to be much of a problem, either, since Wolverine is all to happy to brutally murder the guard at a side entrance.

To the best of my recollection, this is the first time in the comic's history that an X-Men has deliberately killed someone.  It's hardly a surprise that it's Wolverine, but it still sits very uneasily with what the comic is supposed to be.  You could perhaps argue that we don't know Logan killed the guard (it's done off-panel), but Storm's astonished realisation that Wolverine had "no mercy in him" certainly suggests the world has incurred a loss to the tune of one mook.  I really don't understand why Nightcrawler (a committed Catholic) and Storm (who has sworn never to take a life) don't give Wolverine the slightest amount of crap about his actions.  For all they know, this guy's never hurt anybody.  He might just have started the job that morning, because Gavrokk cut the funding at his old workplace, the Savage Land Rescue Shelter For Sick Orphans and Poorly Puppies.

I mean, come on, Ororo.   You were perfectly happy to tell Scott he was a douche for not being more upset about Jean dying.  You can't muscle up a bit of ire over Logan gutting some guy that Nightcrawler could have easily just knocked out? Especially since it turns out he was guarding the rubbish dump, which doesn't exactly suggest "man clearly too evil to live" to me.

This may be why almost immediately Wolverine is dealt a savage blow by karma, which on this occasion has taken the form of a pissed-off velociraptor.  This also receives a fatal snikting (is this the first outing for that sound-effect?  I haven't been paying attention), though this one is somewhat more deserved.  With this particular assumed extinct species that much closer to bowing to public opinion, our intrepid trio stumble upon a truly gigantic arena in the centre of the city.  Quite why Garokk thought it necessary to build such a structure (which "dwarfs" the Superdome) is unknown, but clearly he's determined to get some use out of it.  For today, it's serving as a convenient location in which to burn the X-Men alive.

I'm not sure why Garokk's started with Colossus, actually.  Sure, the heat from the lava pits makes his glow a rather attractive shade of pink, but if I'd been in charge of the execution schedule, I probably would have started with someone who burns a little more easily.  You know, just to be on the safe side.  As it is, one extra-long teleport from Nightcrawler, and Cyclops gets his sight back just in time to start blasting his friends free.  I don't want to be a back-seat despot, or anything, but that means instead of two dead foes you have two very much alive and kicking X-Men who are flanking someone who is a) made of steel, b) glowing red-hot, and c) hoping to punch you in the face.  I respectfully suggest this is a scenario worth going to some length to avoid.

Garokk at least has the sense to run like Hell once everything goes south at least, but it's too late.  After a brief battle with Cyclops, he falls to his death.  Storm tries to save him, and feels bad when she fails, because she's a woman with class.  Me? I say let the fucker drop.  If he hadn't insisted in being made out of rock, maybe he wouldn't have fallen so fast.

With Garokk dead and the Savage Land saved, the X-Men hang around for a fortnight until the land thaws, and then head out to see in a ramshackle raft.  Frankly, the degree to which the vessel is seaworthy seems an open (to say nothing of importan)t question, especially since the worst winter storm in a century is bearing down on them.

Eastenders drum roll!

Clues

This story takes place over the course of a fortnight.

The first page of this issue notes that the snow-covered mountain the X-Men are climbing was verdant and green just a few days ago.  It's certainly at least the day after the events depicted in the final pages of UXM #115 (they started the climb at dawn, that issue ended in the afternoon), but from the description, it makes more sense to assume the X-Men have spent a full day and a half struggling through the tundra.

That means, of course, that we have officially (well, "officially") followed the X-Men into their fifth year of adventures!

Also, the squall that the X-Men head into as they leave the Savage Land is described as a "winter gale".  Technically, we're a few weeks into spring according to our timeline, but since we're into spring in the northern hemisphere, and this issue was originally published as the southern hemisphere was approaching summer, I'd argue Claremont can pretty much just piss off.

Date

Monday 22nd of March to Monday 5th April, 1982.

X-Date

X+3Y+357 to X+4Y+6.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year =  3.80 standard years.

(Storm is 34 years old.)

"Wolverine, stop squirming--!"
Contemporary Events

The 54th Academy Awards are held.  Chariots of Fire is named best picture.

The Falklands War begins, and both the Falkland Islands and South Georgia are invaded and occupied by the Argentinians.

Standout Line

"Wolverine, truly there is more to you than meets the eye."
"At my size, babe, that ain't hard."

Saturday, 22 October 2011

UXM #115: "Visions Of Death!"


(The friend of our enemy's enemy is our, wait... hang on...)

Comments

Wow, Cyclops and Wolverine got themselves dressed in a hurry.  Especially Logan.  One minute he's sitting atop a rock with the tattered shreds of his costume and a sewing needle, the next his threads are looking brand new again.  Sod the healing factor, being able to mend his own clothes is clearly a far more rare mutant power.  Amirite, ladies?

All this hurried donning of clothes is so that the team can face off against Sauron, who's busy leeching the energy from Storm.  Some wise deployment of his hypno-eyes against Wolverine keeps Sauron in the fight for a while (as well as giving Scott an excuse to blast Wolverine in the face not once but twice), but no being who spent his teenage years reading Lord of the Rings over and over is going to last for long in a scrap, and Dr Lykos proves no exception.  Wolverine is about to - of course - gut the now-human Lykos in retribution when Ka-Zar arrives, announcing that Lykos is under his protection, and that the two of them were on their way to find the X-Men and ask their help.

Wolverine shows remarkable restraint here, in my view.  After all, as he points out, if Ka-Zar had wanted to talk to the X-Men he might've considered not sending in the mutant-gobbling monster first.  Or did Karl just leave the guy a note whilst he was taking a piss somewhere?  "Dear Ka-Zar.  Have gone on ahead to find the X-Men and suck the mutant marrow from their bones offer them coffee and biscuits.  Don't worry too much about catching up I'll make sure that your time comes all too soon I save you a jammy dodger. Kthanx, K."

In any case, Wolverine not only doesn't fly into a beserk rage, he even makes the important gesture of not stabbing Ka-Zar's pet sabretooth tiger to death, which I think we can all agree shows real class.

Once Storm is awake and everyone's agreed not to kill everyone else, our eclectic band sit down around the fire for a quick Jackanory session. Karl Lykos kicks off, explaining how he survived the fall from Tierra del Fuego, and how he watched a priestess named Zaladane bring back the rock god Garokk from the dead.  Frankly, I think it would be more important to explain what possessed Karl to start rocking a denim loincloth, but that might just be me.

Ka-Zar finishes the tail by describing the metropolis Garokk has built, and the petrified man's insistence that all in the Savage Land live within it or die. Banshee and (obviously) Wolverine are immediately champing at the bit to sign up for Operation: Ruin That Guy's Shit, but Cyclops overrules them.  He wants to get back to the Professor in case Magneto survived the eruption in UXM #113 and decides to take his frustration out on Xavier. This complex interplay of motivations is liable to become an issue next, er, issue.

For now, though, the X-Men have bigger problems - it's snowing out in paradise.  And that can mean only one thing: the Savage Land is about to get a taste of how the rest of Antarctica rolls.

Clues

This story follows on immediately from the last one, and takes place across two days.

Date

Saturday 20th  to Sunday 21st of March, 1982.

X-Date

X+3Y+354 to X+3Y+355.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year =  3.82 standard years.

(Storm is 34 years old.)

"A snow-fall!"
Contemporary Events

Manchester United goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak is born.

France performs a nuclear test.

Standout Line

"This bargain-basement Rodan just chopped an X-Man!" - Wolverine.

Friday, 21 October 2011

UXM #114: "Desolation"


(The X-Men I admire most...)

Comments

It's the day the X-Men died! 
Bye, bye, the team led by One-Eye
Mighta scarpered from the lava if a few more could fly
And Beast and Jean look to Antarctic skies
Singing "This'll be the day that I die." 
Except of course, the X-Men aren't dead.  Which isn't in any way a surprise, but then that wasn't really the point.  Claremont brings them into the issue pretty quickly ((apparently Storm used an ice storm to slow down the magma flow whilst Cyclops and Banshee blasted an exit route, which seems exceptionally ridiculous even by comic standards but, whatever), more or less as soon as Beast and Jean are saved (by a passing helicopter, which seems exceptionally coincidental even by comic standards HOLY SHIT I GOT DEJA VU RIGHT THERE YOU GUYS!)

The idea then is not for us to believe they are dead, but to give the X-Men some time to play around in a world that assumes they're six feet under.  Or, you know, six hundred feet under, covered in molten rock.  The fact that this means Phoenix' ridiculous power levels are no longer an issue is unlikely to be coincidental.

While Charles mourns the loss of another team, our heroes find their way back into open air inside the Savage Land.  Banshee quickly finds himself in a tangle with a giant pterosaur, but a patented "fastball special" allows Wolveirne to quite literally tear it apart.  This leads to possibly Cyclops' most pissy complaint ever: if Wolverine had missed, he'd be dead (which, OK, Scott doesn't know any better, but it's not like he's ever asked how Wolvie's power works) and so would Sean.

To which: no.  Go fuck yourself.  If Wolverine failed to save Banshee, then you do it your damn self, or it's your fault Sean dies.  You're team leader, you pathetic whining clown.  At least Wolverine tried something, rather than just waiting to pick fault ex post facto.

Anyway, things start looking up for the X-Men after that, as they find a village of healthy, friendly natives willing to put them up for a few days, and who apparently make an exceptionally skimpy costume for Storm from their own women's bras, leaving them tragically bereft of cover above the Equator (no wonder Peter looks so happy).  The team are processing their belief that Jean and Hank are dead, of course, but nothing helps with grief like a tropical paradise with, at least in Peter's case, pussy on tap.

Banshee and Storm both note though that Scott is perhaps dealing with the situation a little too well, given that his girlfriend (or, if you go by U1C, possibly recently ex-girlfriend) of two years or so has been burned to a cinder.  Storm confronts him on it, just as Scott is on the verge of realising that Corsair is his father.  Immediately such thoughts go out of his head, which, c'mon.  Storm is sexy and scantily clad, sure, but his is your long-lost father we're talking about.  Summon up some focus, would you?

That's strictly small potatoes compared to the massive degree of prickishness he demonstrates a moment later, though, when he confesses to Storm that Jean's change into Phoenix had been so pronounced that he'd basically given up on her in any case.  Dude, that is some cold-hearted bullshit right there.  No wonder everyone's so willing to believe you let most of your team get pressure-cooked in an Antarctic volcano.

Indeed, Storm is so pissed off by this jackass she immediately stomps away and gets her mutant energy drained by Doctor Kyle Lykos (last seen falling to his death, at least as far as Claremont knew at the time). She'll later claim she was taken by surprise, but I think the truth is obvious - it was all a way of teaching Cyclops a lesson.  After all, I'd think "If you're not nice a giant vampiric green flying lizard will kill your friends" is probably quite a strong motivation, don't you?
Clues

This issue takes place over the course of a week.

Date

Saturday 13th to Saturday 20th of March, 1982.

X-Date

X+3Y+347 to X+3Y+354.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year =  3.80 standard years.

(Storm is 34 years old.)

"I feel reborn, more alive
than I've felt in weeks!"
Contemporary Events

The Falklands War is precipitated when a small group of Argentinians occupy a whaling station on the island of South Georgia, and raise the Argentine flag.

Randy Rhoads, a heavy metal guitarist who played with Ozzy Osborn and Quiet Riot, is killed in a plane crash, aged just 25.

Standout Line

"These ladies wish to show me their special island." - Colossus.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

UXM #113: "Showdown!"


(Fire and ice.)

Comments

Wait, so Magneto has managed to rebuild Asteroid M as well?  Where does he find the time?  He could have built a major city on Mars by now, if he hadn't been so keen on punching the X-Men at every opportunity.  Mutants could be living in harmony atop Olympus Mons, if he'd had any foresight.  Idiot.

Apparently, whatever ridiculous scheme he's cooked up this week requires stealing expensive military tech from that noted bastion of cutting edge weaponry and electronics, Australia.  I suppose it's a bit closer to the Antarctic base, at least, though I can't help thinking that if travel time is an issue, building bases in space is probably quite counter-productive.

Whilst Magneto builds/rebuilds his empire, the X-Men have been stuck with Nanny for the last few days, which given their current state raises more than one question I'd rather not have to consider.  But fear not, for Storm has a plan - using her comparatively advanced dexterity, she's able to grab a lock-pick from her headdress, and then try to escape her bonds whilst holding the tool in her teeth.  I'm not sure why she had the "dexterity of a small child" when she was six months old - she might have learned to open safes with her feet when she was a precocious tween (seriously, they show her doing that), but I don't see how it can be applied retrospectively.

In any event, she drops the lockpick, and it looks like it's game over.  Fortunately, when Magneto returns to Antarctica to check out a security breach, we learn that she simply grabbed another lock-pick and got back to work.  You go, girl! Storm continues her run of being the most useful new X-Person so far, even if she only gets two lines an issue, one of which will always be about claustrophobia and/or goddesses.  Not even Nightcrawler's new manoeuvre of being swung around by his tail so he can be hurled into a teleport measures up, though I supposed he should be given points for endurance given how painful it looks.

The X-Men jump Magneto when he arrives, and for a few pages it looks like they're going to come out on top, but they've failed to heal that old saying: "People who live in houses surrounded by lava shouldn't smash shit up."  One measly exploding geyser of molten rock later, and things don't look so rosy anymore.  Magneto beats a hurried retreat, too badly injured to be a threat for a little while, but that doesn't really seem relevant, because it looks like the team have been swept away to their agonising deaths.  Only Phoenix has the power to escape, dragging Beast along with her, but all that grants them is the opportunity to freeze to death in the Antarctic wastelands instead.

Eastenders drum-roll!

Oh, just for the record: this issue was released fifteen years to the day after UXM #1.

Clues

Storm mentions that she's been watching Nanny's routine for "a few days" to figure out timings, which suggests the X-Men's escape is about three days after their arrival.  The subsequent battle and volcanic eruption take place soon after.

Date

Saturday 13th of March, 1982.

X-Date

X+3Y+347.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year =  3.80 standard years.

(Storm is 34 years old.)

"Magneto made a fatal mistake with me."
Contemporary Events

The UK announces its plans to purchase Trident 2 ICBMs from the US government.

Standout Line

"I'm sweating like a pig.  Is this part of their plan?!"  Magneto proves either desperately paranoid or unsettlingly optimistic.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Timeline: 1981 (Take 2)

1981

July

15th   GSX: Second Genesis.
16th   GSX: Second Genesis.
17th   GSX: Second Genesis.
18th   GSX: Second Genesis.
19th  UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
20th  UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
21st   UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
22nd  UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
23rd  UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
24th  UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
25th  UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
26th  UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
27th  UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
28th  UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
29th  UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
30th  UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
31st  UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!

August

1st    UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
2nd   UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
3rd    UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
4th    UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
5th    UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
6th    UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
7th    UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
8th    UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
9th    UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
10th  UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
11th  UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
12th  UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
13th  UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
14th  UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
15th  UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
16th  UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
17th  UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
18th  UXM 94: The Doomsmith Scenario!
18th  UXM 95: Warhunt!

September

1st   UXM 96: Night of the Demon!
2nd  U1C: Giant-Size Special
3rd   U1C: Giant-Size Special
4th   U1C: Giant-Size Special
4th   UXM 97: Dark Shroud of the Past (flashback)
5th   UXM 97: My Brother, my Enemy!
6th   UXM 97: My Brother, my Enemy!
7th   UXM 97: My Brother, my Enemy!
8th   UXM 97: My Brother, my Enemy!
 December

24th  UXM 98: "Merry Christmas, X-Men..."
25th  UXM 98: "Merry Christmas, X-Men..."
25th  UXM 98: "Merry Christmas, X-Men..."
27th  UXM 98: "Merry Christmas, X-Men..."
28th  UXM 98: "Merry Christmas, X-Men..."
28th  UXM 99: "Deathstar, Rising!"
29th  UXM 99: "Deathstar, Rising!"
29th  UXM 100: "Greater Love Hath no X-Man..."
29th  UXM 101: "Like a Phoenix from the Ashes!"
30th  UXM 101: "Like a Phoenix from the Ashes!"
31st  UXM 101: "Like a Phoenix from the Ashes!"

Entries in red represent specials.

UXM #112: "Magneto Triumphant!"


(Inconceivable flying objects.)

Comments

So, last time on UXM, our fearless heroes narrowly escaped a life of ritual humiliation and celebrated by putting on ludicrous costumes and getting threatened by a man with a bucket on his head.   That was a bullet dodged, then.

But it's too late for regrets now, because Magneto has no sooner initiated a game of "turgid smack talk" than he's using his magnetic powers to fly their circus wagon into low orbit.  Nightcrawler is the one to work out what is happening, through the rather drastic method of teleporting outside the caravan and into empty air.  He's in trouble now!  If only he had some way of instantaneously returning to the caravan.  Porting his own body, if you will.

And even if Nightcrawler can be dragged back into the caravan, the rest of the X-Men are helpless.  Helpless! With Magneto keeping them aloft, any attempt to beat him could lead to the cart falling dozens of miles to the ground below.  If only they had a massively powerful telekinetic with them.  How useful would that have been?

I'm not sure the X-Men have recovered as much of their minds as they think they have.

In any case, they decide to keep sullenly quiet until Magneto takes them to where they're going.  First, though, it's ballast-tossing time, as Mesmero is chucked from the back of the wagon.  Magneto is kind enough to lower him to the ground rather than splattering green and purple across half the Amazon basin, but the sight is still enough to drive a local fighter-plane crew to drink (I guess Mesmero isn't the only one who's... off the wagon?).  Storm is less than happy about Mesmero's treatment (despite admitting to having been sorely tempted to kill him herself about nine pages ago), and Magneto claims never to have met the man.

That brings up something I'd always wondered about.  Who actually built the Mags robot that Mesmero once worked for? And why?  Was it Magneto himself, to act as a decoy?  For that matter, how is Magneto so good at making stuff anyway?  Seriously, he's managed to create machines that can generate mutants with specifically determined powers, at least one immensely complicated robot, and secret bases both in space and inside lava flows.  Are we really supposed to believe that's because he can control metal?  That Dog Whisperer dude can control labradors, but that doesn't mean they'll build a condo for him.

Once they land inside the massive secret complex (after travelling through molten lava, because magnetic fields trump massive temperatures and pressures, as well as poisonous fumes), it's time for a fracas.  Once again, Wolverine and Colossus find themselves fairly useless due to their reliance on metal (there's a truly wonderful panel in which Magneto forces Wolverine to punch himself out, which I wish I could find online), and no-one else does much better.

Save Phoenix, who has Magneto on the ropes until her power cuts out. That's interesting, actually.  As she says herself, the assumption was that she has no limit.  I presume this is another attempt to ensure Phoenix isn't just able to massacre any given opponent the team faces.

The issue ends with the X-Men hooked up to another one of Magneto's diabolical machines of provenance unknown.  This one reduces them to the physical and verbal level of six-month old babies, to give them a taste of what Magneto went through when he was de-aged (it happened outside of the X-books, so I've never really been sure of the details).

Like Mesmero's scheme before it, it's a tad unconventional as a revenge plan, but at least this time there's some poetic justice mixed in there, even if it's more than a little misplaced.

Clues

This issue follows on directly from the previous one.

Our first consideration here regards how long it takes Magneto to carry the cart from Lubbock, Texas to his secret underground base in Antarctica.  It's clear that he can lift the cart miles into the sky in the time it takes Wolverine to have one of his hyper-aggressive/embarrassingly petulant strops, so we're definitely talking in the tens of miles per minute.    we then learn that the cart travels over four thousand miles in the space of half an hour, which means it could travel from pole to pole in about an hour and a half.

Since the flight began in "the midnight air", that presumably puts touchdown at some time around 1am.  It's not clear how long the X-Men are unconscious after the fight that follows, but Magneto refers to the machine which imprisons them as the last of the night's surprises, suggesting they can only have been out for a few hours at most.

Date

Tuesday 9th to Wednesday 10th of March, 1982.

X-Date

 X+3Y+343 to X+3Y+344.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year =  3.74 standard years.

(Storm is 35 years old.)

"You -- monster!"
Contemporary Events

The solar system undergoes what could loosely be considered a syzygy as all nine planets (shut up, Pluto counts) found themselves on the same side of the Sun.

Standout Line

"We will fly home and get very, very drunk."  At last!  A human response to mutant activity that is thoroughly believable.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Timeline: 1982

1982

January

1st   UXM 101: Like a Phoenix from the Ashes!
2nd UXM 101: Like a Phoenix from the Ashes!
3rd  UXM 101: Like a Phoenix from the Ashes!
4th  UXM 101: Like a Phoenix from the Ashes!
5th  UXM 101: Like a Phoenix from the Ashes!
6th  UXM 101: Like a Phoenix from the Ashes!
6th  UXM 102: Who Will Stop the Juggernaut?
6th  UXM 103: The Fall of the Tower

February

8th    UXM 104: The Gentleman's Name is Magneto
8th    UXM 105: Phoenix Unleashed!
8th    UXM 106: Dark Shroud of the Past (present)
8th    UXM 107: Where no X-Man has Gone Before!
8th    UXM 108: Armageddon Now!
9th    UXM 108: Armageddon Now!
9th    UXM 109: Home are the Heroes!
10th  U1C 1: Refuge
10th  U1C 2: To Err is Inhuman...
12th  U1C 3: The Next Life
13th  U1C 3: The Next Life
19th  U1C 4: Sisters of the Dragon
19th  U1C 5: The Knights of Hykon
20th  U1C 5: The Knights of Hykon
20th  U1C 6: The Sky is Falling
20th  U1C 7: The Shattered World
20th  U1C 8: The Curse of Craeliach
21st  U1C 8: The Curse of Craeliach
22nd U1C 8: The Curse of Craeliach
23rd UXM 110: The 'X'-Sanction!

March

9th UXM 111: Mindgames!

UXM #111: "Mindgames!"


(Thanks for the lack of memories.)

Comments

At last!  Edna McCoy's handsome baby boy is back!  His hair is blue, his mind is sharp!

He's also determined not to let a life with the high-flying, fast-and-loose adventures dent his love for the scientific method.  Watch in hushed wonder as he observes an indigo-furred, demon-tailed creature teleport through space whilst wearing Nightcrawler's costume and conclude that it isn't definitely not Nightcrawler!  Stand aside, assumption!  Step back, interpolation!  Hank McCoy is on the case, and if he can't see the label on the boxer shorts, then this shit just gonna have to remain speculative.

Up until he sees Jean, at least, who's face and powers he can't fail to recognise, even if - like the other X-Men - she seems to be convinced she's a circus performer and, even more indicative of a damaged mind, that beauty spots are back in fashion.  You also have to give her extra loony points for going to her trailer, climbing out of her ridiculously revealing leotard, and then dressing up as a '30s prostitute.  She even changes her hair style and, uh, length, which shows true telekinetic dedication to looking like someone FDR might smuggle through the Rose Garden whilst Eleanor wasn't looking (hey, why should Xavier be the only cripple gettin' some?).

Also, Scott Summers is her body guard.  Or maybe it just looks like Scott.  Beast still isn't sure, which I think probably goes beyond scientific method and into a level of denial rarely seen outside of Kubler-Ross models and Gingrich's campaign bus.  He is duly punished for this refusal to be satisfied with the available evidence when Colossus punches him in the back of the head (and if this feature could be added to academic talks displaying similar levels of bullish refusal of the facts, I for one would be grateful), and then dragged before Mesmero.

FOR IT IS HE!  Last seen in UXM #60, looking thoroughly miserable because it turned out his boss was a robot about five seconds before he was abducted by another robot (fuck Harlan Ellison, this is clearly the real reason James Cameron dreamed up Terminator, original title: Robots are Douches), Mesmero has decided to gain his revenge on the X-Men for smashing his city up in UXM #52 by turning them into a circus act.

It's... not the most obvious method of wreaking your vengeance, is it?  Mind you, given Mesmero only ever saw the light of day post-kidnapping because the X-Men saved his green-tinged hide means that this whole escapade seems astonishingly ungrateful.  Like my mother always says: never trust evil circus hypnotists.  And she should know; before she ran into El Zappo Diablo at Scarborough Fair back in the late '70s, her future plans consisted of buying three dozen cats and a hysterectomy.  I could have been Mr fucking Huggles right now.  Whether or not I feel bad about this generally depends on the relative prices of cider and catnip on the open market at any given time.

I am straying from the point.

So, Mesmero has kidnapped and brainwashed the X-Men, and at least part of his plan is to use them as bait for other superheroes.  Does he not know Jean Grey has Sue Storm on speed-dial?  Indeed, couldn't he get Jean to use her powers to draw heroes towards them?  Why go to all this trouble?  The answer, I would imagine, lies in Jean mentioning an upcoming date with "the boss", which given the week or more she's spent under his total control suggests possibilities I have no intention of considering too closely.

Clearly she's not right in the head, though.  When next we see her, she's changed clothes again.  Boob-tube and short skirt are in, and the fishnet tights she apparently put on after the show are once more absent.  No wonder Wolverine is disgusted when he arrives, freshly escaped from Mesmero's grip because apparently watching Beast get wailed on awoke his primal urge "to be free" (read: stab things).   First order of business, of course, is punching out Cyclops, and who could object to that.  I could watch those to smack each other around all day.  There's no comic that can't be improved with one or both of them planting their fists square in each other's jaw.  Not just X-Men, either.  Sandman, Watchmen, Palestine.  Probably not Maus, I guess.

With Cyclops sprawled out, Wolverine tries to break Jean's condition in the only way he knows how - by slapping her.  This is... less awesome.  It's not immediately clear to me how he makes the leap from him escaping by watching a fight (his "gut, instinctual level") to the idea that Jean will respond best to being slapped in the chops.  I know that smacking a woman to her senses has some historical precedent behind it, but I really don't think that does anything to improve matters.

Still, you can't argue with success, and once Jean explodes (almost literally) with anger, she recovers her sense of self, and they're off to reset the other X-Men to their factory settings.

Meanwhile, Mesmero is trying to hypnotise Beast.  It's not working, possibly due to his short-sighted decision to replace his tear ducts with water pistols.


Not that it matters, though, because our villainous Vincent is interrupted!  The X-Men arrive seconds later to find both Beast and Mesmero unconscious, and standing over their prone forms: the Master of Magnetism!

Dun dun duh!

Clues

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

Beast's investigation of the mansion reveals a bare minimum of seven days mail, judging from the number of visible newspapers in the pile inside the door.   It could be longer though, given Beast's thoughts on the matter, and given that there's been time for a postcard to arrive from Xavier.  I don't care how devoted he is to his students, there are other things that take priority on sexy tropical getaways - whatever state your hindquarters are in.

Let's assume then that the X-Men went missing the day after they stopped Warhawk, and that Beast has arrived in Texas exactly two weeks later.

Date

Tuesday 9th of March, 1982.

X-Date

 X+3Y+343.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.72 standard years.

(Storm is 35 years old.)


"None of these... creatures will escape!"
 Contemporary Events

Charles Haughey is re-elected to a second term as the seventh Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland.

Standout Line

"My pleasure, bub." KRAK!