Monday, 21 November 2011
X1F #4 "The Mind Of Jean Grey"
(A dream of Jeannie's.)
Let's take a break from Claremont's record-breaking UXM run, and finish off X-Men: First Class Finals. When last we checked in, those team members furnished with Y chromosomes were headed into Marvel Girl's subconscious, in an effort to ascertain why she was manifesting previous foes all over the place.
Most of this issue, then, takes place within the mind of Jean Grey (as indeed the title helpfully reminds us). Xavier's rather worried by Jean's recent habit of pulling people into her dreamscape, and given the books we've been looking at this month, he clearly has a point.
Their first stop is to review their last conversation with Jean before she passed out (explaining the strange blue-dialogue X-Men shades we saw last issue). The team try to piece together the puzzle - creating Juggernaut to floor Frederick makes some sense, but what about the Magneto junkpile, and why is she letting herself get punched around by her own illusions - but their brainstorming is interrupted by the Hulk.
Fortunately, Jean is there to step up to the plate, single-handedly juggling the Hulk ("HULK NOT LIKE!") until she gets bored and tosses him away. It's clear at this point that Jean is somewhat selectively editing her memories (how like a woman, amirite?), casting herself as the team's biggest gun and last line of defence. One moment Cyttorak turns up from nowhere and gets clobbered by our redhead, the next the team are back on Monster Island whilst Jean defeats Mastermind in a psychic duel. The team fly after her (being inside a dream is not devoid of advantages) and finds her defeating angry hippos in the middle of the Florida everglades, something you'd ironically have to be from Florida to not realise is ridiculous.
Xavier tries to lecture Jean into snapping out of her revenge-a-thon, but doesn't get very far. Scott manages where his teacher failed, though, by just stepping forward and engaging smooching. "The power of luvvv", as Warren notes. Usually that kind of stuff irritates me, but I can see how kissy-time would have more of an effect than the Professor's droning.
The only problem is that Jean's subconscious ain't exactly playing ball right now. It responds to Jean starting to recover her wits by pitting the team against every foe they've faced throughout the X1C run, with Magneto and Toad thrown in for good measure. Jean manages to dispel the slavering hordes, but her hind-brain has one more punch left to throw: the car that killed Jean's friend when they were ten years old.
Jean concludes that this incident, which caused a flare in Jean's nascent powers that revealed her to the Professor, has been simmering in her subconscious ever since, creating a feedback loop somewhere in her synapses that she won't be able to save her friends when they're in danger. It's a nice idea, and ties up the miniseries, but I can't help wondering why this has happened now, after 66 issues of UXM and 24 of X1C. Obviously, the reason why it couldn't happen sooner is clear enough, but I'm not sure stories get a pass for happening too late merely because no-one thought of it when it would have made sense.
Of course, X1C was never going to be an easy title to wrap up, by it's very nature - not just the "untold tales" format, but the book's unwillingness to introduce it's own rogue's gallery. Again, though, I'd say that would more suggest that First Class Finals wasn't a great idea from the outset. Still, whilst the lightweight nature of Parker's approach to the series might stretch a little thin over a four part story, it's still nice and breezy, and with Parker's trademark charmingly irreverent dialogue. Indeed, though this seres as a whole has been slightly sub-par, it's really only the final page that causes any real problems; a dashed set-up for Giant Size X-Men that makes no sense in context and tarnishes the book's previously excellent record in avoiding contradicting the events of its parent title.
Judging by the colour of the sky at various points in this issue, this story begins immediately after X1F #3, and concludes on the following day.
The issue ends with the team heading to Krakoa, an hour after they graduate. Obviously, this is impossible, both because there's no sign of Havok and Polaris being with them, and, more importantly, Hank was still pink and comparatively hairless earlier in the day.
Friday 4th to Saturday 5th of September, 1980.
X+2Y+157 to X+2Y+158.
The world's longest highway tunnel is opened in Switzerland.
"I have a feeling my mind isn't this big." - Bobby.