Friday, 7 October 2011

UXM #108: "Armageddon Now!"

("He's history's greatest monster!")


Ooh!  Ooh ooh ooh!  Today's guest president: Mr Malaise himself, Mr Jimmy Carter!

(I presume that's Joel W. Solomon on the right, but I can't be sure).

Under normal circumstances, this would just be one of those celebrity appearances that immediately dates a comic and makes my life miserable.  But not this time!  This time the implication is clear - it's 1982, Jimmy Carter is sitting in the Oval Office... the heroes of the Marvel Universe got the Peanut Farmer re-elected (probs by heading to Iran and getting all up in those hostage-takers grilles)!

Just think of the technocractic wonderland Carter must be presiding over in that most fortunate of alternate universes!  The cars would run on alternative fuels, the Contras would have to finance their own violations of human rights, and Operation: Urgent Fury might not have seemed so Urgent after all.

Fuck you, real-world history, is what I'm saying.

Anyway, let's review a comic while we're here.  First of all, if there's anything more likely to make me smile than Carter turning up [1], it would definitely be watching Wolverine getting punched into orbit by a tiny troll-thing. 

And I get that too!  What a day to be alive! 

First, though, we get a few scenes of Earth's heroes looking decidedly disconsolate, and not just because President JC doesn't wanna hear about it.  Is this the first time Beast actually says "Oh, my stars and garters!"? Chalk up another tally mark for Claremont if it is.

With that done, it's time for the X-Men to try and take down tiny Tina Turner Jalp. Most of the battle is the usual exchange of super-powers and super-powered punches, and as soon as Banshee liquefies tiny Bowie in Labyrinth Jalp's circuit boards, it's time for the Second Guardian of the crystal to show up and start smashing things. It's the most cynical use of stacked boss battles since Golden Axe, where you kill that one... guy, and another guy... comes along instead, only he has a bigger axe, I think?  Or something?

Am I thinking of the right game, actually?  Which is the one where the Amazon warrior calls down a dragon that sets fire to literally everything on screen, and yet her bearskin bikini remains unruffled?

Anyway, you get my point.  Fortunately, this Russian doll approach to boss battles stops when Raza Longknife (who ironically only ever wanted to make tuning forks and play the spoons) throws Mad Emperor D'Ken (previously Presumed Sane But Clearly A Dick Emperor D'Ken) at the crystal, with the effect of causing everyone nearby to get sucked inside it except the Guardian.

Nice defence system you got going there, crystal that can destroy reality.  I don't care if you hired the fucking T-1000 to guard your house, you're still going to get shafted if you build the walls from rice paper.

Maybe that's a bit harsh.  There's still one last obstacle - a field of energy that makes you live through your worst nightmares.  That would be a fairly sound barrier under normal circumstances, I guess.  Nightcrawler dreams he is being murdered by his friends, Corsair (who apparently looks almost exactly like Cyclops and no-one notices) remembers the murder of his wife, and Mad Emperor D'Ken becomes terrified that he's being chased by the Soul-Drinker.  You'd think that someone so terrified of that monster would think twice before summoning it right next to them to eat the people he's pointing at, actually.  But no-one cares what you think, because you are not Mad Emperor D'Ken. See that you remember that, mammal.

Jean, it turns out, has a healthy fear of death, but lucky ol' Phoenix has already conquered that good night, though arguably only in the same way that Michael Jackson conquered poor album sales, i.e. by going so bats-arse mental that it didn't really register any more.  This resolve, combined with her love for and faith in her friends, allows her to find a nearby PC, bring up the window asking "Are you sure you want to restore this universe to its factory settings?" and press "CANCEL". 

(OK, so she actually repairs a lattice of interlocking stasis fields holding a nascent neutron galaxy in check, so as to prevent it from absorbing the power of the nine death-stars and expanding to destroy creation.  I submit that my explanation makes no less sense.)

And then it's all over bar the shouting.  The X-Men and Lilandra return to Earth, secure in the knowledge that the M'Krann crystal is safe from the newly named Comatose Emporer D'Ken.

It's a happy ending at last, then.  I still maintain that it was a strangely paced story - it's first elements appeared two years earlier, but the story only fully got going about an issue and a half before this one.  Again, the power of Phoenix is probably the biggest reason why; she needed to be compus mentus enough to save reality from the N-galaxy, but out of action the rest of the time, and there's only so long you can do that (as it is, Claremont has admitted her stay in hospital from UXM #101 to #104 was because they had no idea what they were going to do with her). 

Still, it's not hard to see why it's viewed as a classic - a plethora of early clues that pretty much all pay off, a massive universe-spanning threat, an awful lot of explosions and punching, and soap-opera revelations such as finding out Scott's father is still alive.  Though in fairness I'm not sure any of the soaps would also reveal that he was fucking a cat.  When will this country finally cast aside it's Victorian prudishness?


The majority of this issue takes place in approximately real time, but some time passes between the X-Men defeating D'Ken and returning to Earth.  The darkness that they encounter upon arrival suggests we may have passed midnight into a new day.

Jean mentions that it's been "months" since she crashed the Starcore shuttle into Jamaica Bay.  At present, we have it as a fortnight.  The disparity is easily rectified, however, by simply extending the period of time the X-Men spend on holiday at Cassidy Keep.  It probably can't have been too long, since Erik the Red/Shakari had already made contact with Magneto on Muir Island by the time Juggernaut and Black Tom were defeated, but assuming it took them a little time to put their plan into fruition, we can certainly inject sufficient time to make it over a month since the crash, which would make Jean's comment more or less reasonable.

(This also allows me to clear up a mistake I made a few days ago: the encounter with Magneto (and hence the X-Men's journey to the stars) is mentioned as taking place on a Monday.  Apologies.)


Monday 8th to Tuesday 9th February, 1982.


X+3Y+280 to X+3Y+281.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.78 standard years.

(Storm is 34 years old.)

"It is my life to give, my friend."

Contemporary Events

Kate "Duchess of Cambridge, like anyone cares" Middleton is born.

Standout Line

"Uh... 'Jammer to Corsair, I mark a small, organic, humanoid form, approximately a meter-six long... 70 kilos mass..."
"He's one of ours, "Waldo".  How's he doin'?"
"Would you believe escape velocity?... How're things dirtside?"
"Don't ask."

[1] Did you know the US could only bring themselves to name a submarine after him?  Reagan and Bush Sr both got nuclear fucking super-fucking-carriers.  We're still waiting for Clinton to get a ship (maybe one the missiles get redesigned as giant flying dicks, amirite?), which led to a lot of shouting and anger a few years ago when the Navy started discussing naming ships after Republican Presidential candidates who lost the election. I mean, once you run out of Republican Presidents, it's the logical next step, right?

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