Wednesday, 7 December 2011

UXM #152: "The Hellfire Gambit!"

(I want my body back, body back, body back, body back...)


It's all gone a bit Face/Off this issue, as we open on Emmastorm flinging lightning bolts at the car Stormemma stole so as to make good on her escape. Stormemma has Kitty in the passenger seat, as well.  Turns out she wasn't dead at the end of last issue, merely knocked out, a revelation that wouldn't be remotely surprising even if Claremont didn't already have form in using the "They were only unconscious!" get-out clause even when the heroes themselves pronounce a character dead.  The conflagration outside the car wakes Kitty up, and she immediately panics upon seeing the White Queen driving the car.  She phases out before Stormemma can explain, and in the confusion the older woman loses control of the car, causing it to fly off the road and explode.  Emmastorm tries to summon the wind to extinguish the flames (and thus the threat to her previous body), but overcompensates and blows herself away.

Sprite recovers quickly enough to reach Stormemma's body before it burns up in the wreckage, but this leads to a quandary: should Kitty rescue the woman (she thinks) would happily mind-blast and kidnap her the instant she regains consciousness.

Emmastorm, by contrast, is still very much awake, and upon returning to the mansion proves it by starting to smash up Ororo's attic garden.  Nothing demonstrates true class like ruining your foes' chrysanthemums, I always say.  Shaw is on hand to talk her down (she's understandably pissed that her original body might now be somewhat less than usable), and explain what happened last issue.  Turns out it wasn't Frost's mental powers that allowed the exchange - it was a "persona exchange gun".  I cannot be alone in thinking my explanation is something like three hundred times less idiotic.

Out in the woods, Kitty has made her choice.  Her reward: having her blond enemy insist that she's actually Storm.  Sprite is unsurprisingly cynical about this claim, and impressively is smart enough to reject Stormemma's offer to tell her something no-one but them would know ("You read thoughts.  You could have learned the answers a year ago when Storm was held prisoner, or you could pull 'em from my head now!"), but a combination of the woman's speech patterns and proficiency at escapology give her pause.

Back at the mansion, the defeated and captured X-Men are still somewhat confused as to exactly what is going on, a condition which is hardly helped by Emmastorm walking in dressed as the White Queen. Wolverine is dragged away for some payback from the mercenaries he chopped up back in UXM #133, and it seems the only hope for our favourite mutants is that Kurt's foster sister takes out enough time from wanting to fuck him to use her magic powers to bust everyone loose.

Stormemma and Kitty are on their way to help too, having called Stevie Hunter and asked her to pick them up (which must have been a strange conversation even after Ms. Hunter discovered their true identities back in UXM #145).  There's only just enough time for Stormemma to change into a skin-tight leotard (it's a tribute to the White Queen's fashion sense that this qualifies as less revealing) and to give Kitty a stern talking-to (always helpful in establishing one's repressive bona fides) before the two super-heroines exit the car and head for home.  Approximately three seconds later, Shaw and Emmastorm jump Stevie, and demand to know just what's going down.

Whilst Sprite and Stormemma bypass the mansion's security, tragedy strikes the team when Leland McFattyfat uses his gravity warping powers to kill the uncontrollable Wolverine. Which, c'mon, Chris!  This is the second time in this story you've tried to convince us an X-Man is dead.  At a certain point it stops being chucklesomely inept and becomes a weird kind of facial tic somehow applied to a typewriter. At least this awesomely clever redirection (Amanda used her sorcery to fake his death) only last three pages, though.  If you can't be impressive, be quick, that's what my girlfriend tells me.

 Kitty and Logan spring the rest of the X-Men, who make short work of most of the Hellfire's forces.  Shaw and Emmastorm are left standing, though.  The first is dealt with by throwing him into the lake, which is a nice idea - rob him of some of the kinetic energy he'd absorb if he collided with a solid object, and force him to waste time and power swimming to shore.  Dealing with Emmastorm is a little tougher, since most of the team still don't know what's happened.  Which is entirely fair enough, I suppose, given they've already seen Storm go entirely insane with power (#UXM 147) and watched Jean Grey join the Inner Circle without warning.  Indeed, you could make the case that Nightcrawler and co. are so willing to believe Storm has gone rogue because that's what Claremont keeps writing.  Did he really write this title for seventeen years?  Or did he just slap together two years, and reshuffle them eight point five times in a row?

Shaw's violent return to the fray is interrupted by a lightning bolt to the cranium, confirming Stormemma's concerns that her opposite number has managed to let loose a squall she's too inexperienced to control.  Grabbing her white-haired enemy, Stormemma shoots her with the persona exchange gun (that she was somehow keeping hidden in a dress so tight it needs a pressurised contents warning label).  Storm then quiets both the weather (with her total control over her elemental powers) and Emma (with a bolt of lightning to the face).  Frost is so stunned by her defeat and Shaw's apparent coma that she concedes totally, and even allows Kitty to return to the X-Men, though presumably there's some paperwork involved there that we're not privy to.


This story begins during the night of the attack on the mansion, and continues until sometime either just before or just after dawn.

Kitty mentions that the team's first tangle with the Hellfire Club was one year earlier.  This is impossible, as Kitty has still yet to reach her fourteenth birthday, meaning this incident cannot have occurred more than six months before now.  Our timeline has it at five months, in fact.  We'll put this down to typical teenage exaggeration.


Monday 22nd to Tuesday 23rd of March, 1983.


X+4Y+356 to X+4Y+357.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.67 standard years.

(Shadowcat is 22 years old).

Manages to get bored of a
talking fucking lion.
Contemporary Events

US President Ronald Reagan announces his intent to develop anti-ballistic missile technology, using a combination of ground- and space-based installations. This plan is dubbed "Star Wars" by the media, in part due to its total ludicrousness: the American Physical Society argued that it would require ten years of research just to determine whether Reagan's plan was even theoretically feasible.

Standout Line

"You can stay here and starve or get eaten by wolves, I don't care." - Kitty lays down the law.


  1. In many ways, I miss Emma Frost. That lady sure did love bodyswapping ... for me her soulmate shall be Iceman, after all Bobby is the one man she's ever been inside of... & Vice Versa, Oh yeah ! ;) R.I.P EMMA FROST (1980-2001)


  2. She was pretty kick-ass in UXM #331, in which she basically kept calling Bobby a dick until he rebuilt his own chest. Not many people could pull that off...