Tuesday, 11 October 2011

U1C #2: "To Err Is Inhuman..."

(Mutual defence treaties.)


When last we joined the X-Men, Nightcrawler caused a diplomatic incident by basically trying to punch the Inhuman's equivalent of the Pope right in his Terrigan Mist-altered pope-junk, and in the process wrecked their precious child-mutating machine that they were all so fond of.

As I mentioned yesterday, I was pretty much entirely on the side of InhumaniPope; when you're dealing with an (essentially) alien culture and you see their most sacred ceremony being carried out by willing participants, I'd have thought it prudent to at a bare minimum ask a few follow-up questions before you start "teleporting for tolerance" (ebamfipation? No?), so I was kind of hoping Nightcrawler would get slapped around for this one (beyond the zapping he got from the business end of his Inhuman Eminence's pathetically non-lethal energy staff).  Failing that, it would be nice to get a better explanation of out him, at least, something that touched on his personal beliefs (in the majesty of a Pope that at least has the decency to cover up fucking around with children, for instance).

We do at least get the latter, as Nightcrawler tells those arrayed to try him that all life is perfect from birth, and thus cannot be deliberately altered.  That, at least, sounds entirely plausible coming from a Catholic, and from a mutant besides (I can't imagine Kurt wanting anything to do with, say, Kavita Rao's mutant "cure").  He also argues that the children cannot be expected to offer informed consent, which, I dunno.  It depends on how Inhuman physiognomy works, a topic Kurt's already admitted to knowing absolutely nothing about.

But whilst his attack still seems ludicrously ill-considered, and one wishes he'd given this speech before ending up on trial for his life, he's at least making sense from the perspective of a human mutant and a man of faith.  He also gets the chance to apologise to Colossus, which is nice.

Having Nightcrawler able to plausibly defend his corner is important here, becaus it enables the issue to go down a route which was more or less untouched at the time this team was originally in residence, and give us a story in which everyone is in the right from their own point of view, and neither side has been brainwashed, hoodwinked, or gotten the wrong end of the stick.  This is about two groups of super-powered people beating the ever-loving shit out of each other because that's what the situation requires of them.  If Kurt gets off a little easily in this story (and I think he does), that's because Scott's anger is directed at Jean, who attacks the Inhumans as soon as the team arrives in response to their unwilling hosts murderous hatred of Kurt.

With Colossus determined to save Kurt, Cyclops desperate to prevent Jean from getting herself killed, Quicksilver, Crystal and Medusa all wading in to help out loved ones and family members, and Karnak and Gorgon basically just wanting to hand out some mob justice, the whole scene descends into chaos almost instantly.  While, as is so often the case, the fight itself isn't really particularly interesting to talk about, watching it escalate as each character finds themselves unwilling to risk the health of those they care about has a nicely snowballing feel to it.

Indeed, in case that wasn't already obvious, Gray un-subs the subtext by having Gorgon accidentally set off an avalanche, which only Phoenix' and Black Bolt's quick actions stops from destroying the city.  Nightcrawler is then forgiven out of "mercy" (I think it rather more likely that Black Bolt had no interest in explaining why Kurt would be tried for sacrilige whilst Gorgon is let off for almost killing everyone in Atillan), and the X-Men return home.

Taking both parts together, this is definitely an impressive opener for the series.  There was plenty of brawling (not fun to write about doesn't mean not fun to read), some lovely character moments for Nightcrawler, and a reminder that mutants don't have the last word on what consitutes "normal" any more than we do.

There's also one last interesting scene as the team fly westward, in which it's made plain just how much strain the Phoenix issue has put on Jean and Scott's relationship.  This was alluded to back when it first happened in the late '70s, of course, but mainly via Scott being constantly surly and uncommunicative.  Seeing them snipe at each other (Scott's being too controlling and aggressive, Jean is clearly way out of control and refuses to admit it) makes the problem seem far more real.  I was a little disappointed to learn Scott Gray was writing this book, given how much fun Jeff Parker's X-Men: First Class was, but this far at least, Gray is definitely holding up his end.

Plus, if nothing else, you have to give credit to a writer who's willing to put together a story from this era without a single appearance by Wolverine at all.  At least until the final page, that is, when gravity finally starts doing its job and brings the Canucklehead back to Earth.


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


Wednesday 10th February, 1982.



Contemporary Events

Six Soviet sailors claim to have discovered a derelict vessel in the fog-bound Black Sea.  They go missing for five days, only to reappear claiming they were drawn into a cigar-shaped UFO.

Standout Line

"Hey... Farmer Joe... Where am I?"
"Y-You are in Georgia, sir..."
"You're kiddin'... That big ape... knocked me clean across five states...?"
"No, sir... You do not understand... You are in the other Georgia... The one next to Russia."

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