Monday, 17 October 2011
U1C #8: "The Curse Of Craeliach"
(Where we've come from, and where we're going.)
After the intergalactic threats and interpersonal melodrama of the last three issues, this story seems like something of an oddly low-key choice for the final issue of the book. Perhaps this was intentional. You can't run at full throttle forever, particularly when you're rounding off a series, after all.
Even so, though, I would have thought that, say, a quieter issue delving into the after-effects of the battle against the Knights of Hykon (particularly when it comes to Scott and Jean) would have made more sense than finishing the run with what's essentially a police procedural with added leprechauns (the kind of thing Angel might have done on a week it didn't want the audience to think too hard).
The pacing here is a little odd too, I think. The mystery of who killed Old Finnan is wrapped up within thirteen pages, and then the supernatural fireworks begin. I wonder if this was originally intended to be two -parter, in which the reveal of a Sidhe presence in Cassidy Keep would have functioned as a cliff-hanger. Having said that, as a single issue this certainly has a decent level of pace to it, so maybe this was the plan all along.
It's nice to see that Banshee is a big believer in tradition beyond those of his Irish lineage. No sooner has he worked out who the killer is than he's telling everyone to gather together in the evening so that he can unmask the killer with due pomp and exposition. If Agatha Christie had written stories about leprechauns being done in by chamomile tea (I find it hard to have much respect for a species that can't even process chamomile, but then mongooses presumably say the same thing about us and cobra venom), they might have looked a little like this.
Banshee's deductions are actually pretty impressive. No hidden information or off-panel occurrences here, he works the whole thing out from an absence of light in the apothecary store-room and an acrostic in Finnan's "suicide" note. Like I said, this all seems to be travelling at exceptionally high speed, but it certainly doesn't sacrifice story logic in the process.
Then we're on to stage two of the story, where the apothecary's grandson Declan reveals himself to be half-Sidhe, and then begins his roaring rampage of revenge (TM Quentin Tarantino). At this point the issue loses me a bit. I can see both the dilemma and the comic potential in the X-Men being assaulted by a vast force of almost entirely helpless creatures, but be in real danger because they can't fight back because their assailants are possessed, but that sits somewhat uneasily with both the tragic murder of one of Sean's closest friends, and with the idea that Declan is a genuine threat. Once the trolls show up and start smashing Colossus around, it becomes impossible to determine just what the story is aiming for.
It does recover itself at the very end, though, as Sean points out that Declan's lunatic schemes were only ever hatched because everyone else in the Leprechaun community (how often have those words been written side by side, I wonder) treated him like shit because of his lineage. As metaphors to the mutant condition (which itself is a metaphor, remember), it's kind of a strange one, but it just about works. Stronger still is the image of Kurt and Sean beside Finnan's grave, talking about the future as they watch the sun sink into the Atlantic. Some might see something bittersweet, even meaningless, in Kurt's optimism, expressed as it is only a couple of months (from our perspective) before his death, and half a decade after Banshee's.
I'd disagree, though. If there's one thing I think the X-Men are about, above all, it's that the fight for something you believe in doesn't become worthless if it never actually arrives. What matters here isn't that Kurt is imagining a reality that maybe doesn't ever take place (depending on how your interpret his words), it's that if Kurt knew what was coming, it wouldn't alter his choices in the slightest.
And that, at least, is a worthy ending to this series.
This story takes place over three days.
We can assume that the murder took place on the same day that the X-Men defeat the Knights of Hykon, and that Sean, Kurt, Peter and Logan travel to County Majo some time the next day. With Uncanny X-Men: First Class now concluded, then, we'll place UXM #110 the day after this story.
Saturday 20th to Monday 22nd of February, 1982.
X+3Y+292 to X+3Y+294.
Murray Kaufman, New York DJ and "fifth Beatle" (he had various connections to the band, including a stint as George Harrison's room-mate) passes away, aged 60.
"This is the dumbest fight I've ever been in. Hands down." - Wolverine.