Monday, 10 October 2011

U1C #1: "Refuge"

(The kids are alright (after being genetically manipulated))


We've a new title, a new cast, and new writer for this eight-issue run, but on the strength of this issue, that certainly isn't going to mean we stray too far from X1C's formula: light-weight, gently funny stories crammed to bursting with as many Marvel Universe cameos as is possible.

Today it's the turn of the Inhumans.  Medusa has already met the X-Men of course, back when she was suffering from amnesia and thought she might be a mutant, but this time the whole royal family seems to have beamed down for a visit.  This rather odd pairing of teams is an obvious opportunity for culture clash comedy, and Gray certainly makes the most of it, whether by having Banshee stroke Lockjaw as it wolfs down what looks like a dinosaur bone ("D'you like that?  Good doggie!"), or having Gorgon and Wolverine face off in the Danger Room.  "It's OK, Medusa," Cyclops tells their guest after the inevitable has happened, and Logan disappears into the clouds at high speed, "He survived being punched into orbit once--  He'll be fine."  He then adds under his breath "Wow.  Look at that. Still going...", and we don't actually see Wolverine again this issue, but I'm sure he'll be fine.

This brief meeting of cultures also gives Kurt the opportunity to see Atillan.  It's Nightcrawler's turn to be all doom and gloom about the prospects of mutant-human relations, and he's clearly champing at the bit for a chance to leave all that petty homo sapiens crap behind him.  In truth, this clashes somewhat with the lecture Kurt gave Scott the day they returned from Shi'ar space, but I suppose if anything's going to make you reconsider your belief that one shouldn't be ruled by one's problems, then a psychotic mob trying to kill you for the crime of saving two children whilst looking freaky is liable to do it.

So Kurt heads to Atillan, with Peter in tow, the latter presumably tagging along because he can sense exactly what Nightcrawler has in mind.  Everything's going swimmingly, if you don't include Quicksilver popping by for a little while to make sure the X-Men know he's an insufferable bell-end, until Peter finally lets Kurt have it: staying here is running away from everything else ("You must see [the chance to visit Atillan] as a sign.  But I think it is a test.")

This, to put it mildly, is not well-received.  It's a lovely scene, actually, because Peter doesn't get nearly enough chances to demonstrate that his ability to read and understand people is much more impressive than his general demeanour and frankly mediocre intelligence would suggest, and because Kurt's usual range of reactions starts at "ecstatically happy" and only goes so far down as "politely dismissive".  Seeing him lay into Peter ("Shut up! Stupid Russian farmboy... What do you know of the world?") is a too-rare reminder of what's going on beneath the surface.  Much like his Catholicism, Kurt's dedication to civility runs deep through his nature, but he can't suppress his id indefinitely.

Of course, it's not Kurt failing to stick to his principles that you necessarily have to watch out for.  When he attends the ceremony in the Temple of Randac, and sees the children of Atillan exposed to and mutated by the Terrigan mists, he attacks the participants, presumably - and it's a shame the comic doesn't actually come out and say this - because something in it's message of fundamental genetic alteration jibes with his belief in our creation at the hands of God.

That's my take on it, in any case.  It would at least make Nightcrawler look a bit more like a man led to extreme actions by his conception of the universe, and a bit less like a man who comes to your house and sets fire to your kitchen because you were frying bacon and he's a vegetarian.

Are we supposed to have any sympathy for Kurt, here?  Smashing up a sacred temple - and in the process obliterating one of the Inhumans most precious relics - because he doesn't believe the children happily submitting to their culture's practices could possibly really mean it?  Next issue had better involve someone pointing out that Kurt was just responsible for the worst example of Catholic moral pushiness since de Genouilly kicked off the formation of French Indochina, because right now this all reads far too much like a story about how the X-Men stopped all those savages from being all barbaric and non-Western.

This issue takes place over the course of a single day.

I realised after writing yesterday's installment that I'd made a mistake in getting to the end of Moira's time with the X-Men without checking whether or not she makes an appearance in Uncanny X-Men: First Class.

It turns out she does, alongside Lilandra (awkward!), which means this isse at least must take place sometime between UXM #109 and #110.  We'll therefore place this issue where we put UXM #110 last time, and for the next week we'll focus on the eight-issue U1C run.


Wednesday 10th February, 1982.



Contemporary Events

The Royal Mail release four stamps to celebrate the "death centenary" of Charles Darwin.

Is it me, or would Death Centenary be an absolutely awesome title for a horror movie?

Standout Line

"Yeah, I tangled with the Hulk, too.  I let him live..." Wolverine gives us his own take on his first ever appearance.

("Let him live" actually means "Got my ribs broke", in point of fact, but that's another story.)

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