(Rock is dead.)
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!
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.
Monday 22nd of March to Monday 5th April, 1982.
X+3Y+357 to X+4Y+6.
1 Marvel year = 3.80 standard years.
(Storm is 34 years old.)
|"Wolverine, stop squirming--!"|
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.
"Wolverine, truly there is more to you than meets the eye."
"At my size, babe, that ain't hard."