("The centre cannot hold...")
And what rough beast(Sorry, Billy.)
Its hour come round at last
Slouches towards Hellfire
To blow the shit out of everything?
My friends, we're standing in the lobby of one of the most important constructions in the X-Universe. Ahead of us is the lift, open and waiting. Pay no attention to those screams, or the smoke curling down from the stairwell. The Dark Phoenix Saga awaits us.
Things start of quietly enough, admittedly. Somewhat bathetically, in fact, as we learn that Cyclops isn't dead after all. Again, that's not too much of a problem when reading this issue 31 years after the fact, but at the time I'm sure there was more than one fan who figured they'd just gotten punked. "Oh no, I guess he was breathing after all" isn't a resolution, it's an admission of defeat.
I suppose maybe you could just about colour an argument that Jean has jump-started Cyclops' body, I suppose. Given her current power levels, that's not necessarily impossible. And since most of this issue revolves around the idea that she's been brought to her senses (at least in part) after watching Wyngarde stab her first love, it would fit in with what's going on.
That just leads us to another problem, of course, which is the application of the "love saves the day" concept in the first place. Given Jean's recent behaviour, it doesn't entirely make sense, and it seems to be directly contradicted by Dark Phoenix's emergence at issue's end (Jean might turn murderous against anyone else trying to hurt Scott, but she's apparently perfectly happy to blow up his plane in mid-air). We're getting ahead of ourselves, though.
When last we checked in, the entire team had been subdued by the Hellfire's Inner Circle, save Wolverine (who escaped and is now on his way back) and Jean, who's thrown away her loyalties, her free will, and the vast majority of her clothes. Fortunately, as we've covered, watching Mastermind casually try to murder Cyclops has given her a change of heart (mind?), and she releases Scott from his ruby quartz mask at roughly the same time as Logan charges in for round two.
The combination of being taken by surprise and being beaten up by Phoenix quickly proves too much for the Inner Circle. Shaw and Pierce beat a hasty retreat (taking seven of ther limbs with them). Wolverine and Leland disappear back into the sewers, from which only Logan emerges, and Jean uses her ever more awesome powers to to take a leaf from Douglas Adams' book, basically Total Perspective Vortex-ing Mastermind into catatonia, a drooling vegetable in a bad raincoat.
Gaining revenge of Wyngarde isn't enough, though. As the X-Men beat a hasty retreat (out of a fear that, I swear to God, Shaw will have them arrested for trespassing), Jean's power levels continue to build, gradually crowding out her consciousness. By the time the team are airborne, and headed back to Angel's New Mexico home, Jean is gone, and in her place stands the Phoenix. She grants the X-Men a second or two to recognise just how screwed they really are, and then she detonates the plane.
Eastenders drum roll!
This issue follows on directly from UXM #133, and takes place over the course of a few hours.
At one point the narration mentions a "mid-winter" gale going on outside the Hellfire building. That would imply this story takes place sometime in January. However, we know that UXM #125 took place at the latest in the first days of Autumn. Since issues #125-128 all take place in the same week, and UXM #129 through to this current issue take place within the same fortnight, the only possible way the storm in question could genuinely be a winter one would be if the X-Men had stayed on Muir Island for at least two or three months. Banshee, though, described their stay as having lasted days, rather than months or even weeks.
Given all that, we shall have to consider "mid-winter" as being descriptive of the violence of the gale, rather than it's timing.
Tuesday 12th of October, 1982.
1 Marvel year = 3.67 standard years.
(Shadowcat is 22 years old).
|In "The Saturdays", whoever they are.|
London holds the Falklands War Victory Parade, four months after the war's end.
"Here me, X-Men! No longer am I the woman you knew! I am fire! And life incarnate! Now and forever -- I am Phoenix!"