Sunday, 11 December 2011

UXM #154: "Reunion"

("My parents went to space and all I got was this lousy attack by killer alien spiders.")


It's a bitty but expansive set-up this issue, which seems appropriate, since we're about to dive into another of Claremont's Very Important Epics.  The X-Men have split in two for the moment - Cyclops and Storm are staying in the now seemingly rebuilt mansion, presumably acting as custodians, whilst the rest of the team, along with Illyana, Peter Corbeau and the de-powered Carol Danvers, have moved to sunken Ry'leh Magneto's mysterious island.  Xavier is concerned about the number of recent security breaches, which makes sense, since there's no way to know how many people in the Hellfire Club Shaw shared their location with.  Instead, he's moved them to an island location without an easy escape route, inside a spooky city of unknown function or provenance, at a grid reference the entire world watched the USSR launch a nuclear strike at in order to kill Magneto; which makes no sense at all.

Meanwhile, out in space, Christopher "Corsair" Summers is returning to earth, with a Shi'ar dreadnought in hot pursuit.  Clearly he's come back for more than the opportunity to finally discuss the facts of life with his son ("Fact of life 1: I'm your dad").

There's a nice little scene in this book where Wolverine tries to comfort Carol Danvers.  Not only does it give us another rare (at this point) insight into Logan's character beyond grrrsniktkill, it makes total sense that Wolverine would reach out to someone who's suffering from a near total loss of memory, especially since (ironically) he remembers his friendship with her perfectly well.  Indeed, he might actually have gotten through had Kitty not chosen this moment to come blundering in.  Sooner or later that little brat is going to have to figure out that people knock on doors for reasons other than an inability to simply walk through the adjacent wall.

Back at the mansion Scott and Ororo are finally confronting the elephant in the room - which of them gets to be Boss X - when their socially awkward conversation is fortuitously interrupted by a loud roar outside, and they get to go and confront the wrecked spaceship in the lake instead.

The craft's sole occupant is Corsair.  His ship was shot down by the Shi'ar, and whilst rescuing him, Cyclops finds his USAF dog-tags, along with a locket containing pictures of Scott, Alex, and a rather familiar-looking woman.  Clearly, someone needs to start talking, but this is apparently the day for interruptions in serious conversations, because now there's alien spiders ("Sidrian hunters", or so we're told) with frickin' laser beams coming out of their heads crawling all over the mansion and shooting shit up like there's no space-tomorrow.

Cyclops drags Corsair to the monorail which leads to the blackbird, leaving Storm behind to cover their escape.  This prods the senior Summers into a rant about Scott being cold-blooded, which considering Chris left the rest of the Starjammers to their fates in a Shi'ar ambush a few days ago, rather suggests that being "the best pilot in space" is a position that doesn't require much in the way of long-term memory.

In the end, Storm gets out alive in any case to rendezvous with the plane (now named "Kitty's Dragon", bless).  Unfortunately, the creepy-crawly cosmic coin-loving killers have a) completely destroyed the mansion [1] and b) the ability to combine their bodies to form a gigantic spacecraft.  The chase is on!

Happily for our heroes, the X-Jet has a new feature - a windscreen made of plastiglass mixed with ruby quartz which allows Cyclops to fire straight through it.  For a moment or two that sounded completely ridiculous to me, but in retrospect it makes no less sense than anything else involving Cyclops' power, so fair enough.  Even with the added focussing power provided by this special glass, though, the giant flying death-spider (which now looks a bit like a manta ray as well, just to be thoroughly confusing) is one tough cookie, so as the two vehicles dogfight over NYC, Storm leaves the plane to help out.

There's a nice comparison here between two of the characters fighting the Sidri. Despite being fully aware that even a glancing shot from the Sidrian mothership will easily finish her off, Storm's biggest fear is that the gale she'd need to generate to damage her enemy would be so big as to risk the surrounding inhabitants.  It occurs to her, indeed, that willingly engaging in such violent confrontations in the middle of a population centre is dangerously close to a Magneto-style move, a particularly interesting insight considering how Magneto ended up being beaten last time around.  The difference from our perspective is obvious, Storm halts her assault when a nearby chopper is damaged so that she can save its crew.  Still, it seems entirely reasonable that these would be the sorts of doubts Storm has, and that she'd also be worried that Cyclops never has them.

Corsair, on the other hand, waits until the Sidrians have fallen to the ground inside what just happens to be a petrol refinery, and then immediately blows it up, workmen and all.  Cyclops tries to stop him, earning him Corsair's disgust "You sanctimonious fool!"  So, if you haven't kept up: abandoning your crew to Imperial troops whilst you run away: necessary.  Abandoning your son's teammate whilst you run away: heartless.  Objecting to blowing up dozens of innocent people so as not to risk another fight against alien attackers: sanctimonious.  I wonder if Cyclops might feel a bit less numb about his father's sudden reappearance if the man in question wasn't such a colossal tool.

He does at least finally explain what's going on, though: Lilandra's been kidnapped by terrorists, who appear to have stashed her on Earth.  The Starjammers were framed, but the bigger problem is that half the Shi'ar fleet has begun arriving in near orbit, determined to rescue their empress by whatever means necessary...


This story takes place over the course of a few hours.

We need to account here for the time it's taken the X-Men to relocate from Westchester to the island, and for a postcard from same to have found its way back to New York (one imagines Kitty probably wrote it soon after arriving, in order to feel a connection with Storm.)  It also looks like at least some repair work on Xavier's home has been completed, though since the mansion is thoroughly destroyed in this issue, there's no opportunity to judge how far through the restoration the team had gotten.

We'll deal with all this by assuming this story takes place a fortnight after the X-Men first began clearing up the mess left by Shaw's attack.

During Corsair's flyby of Voyager 2 we learn that the probe is still between Saturn and Uranus, putting this story between 1980 and 1986.


Tuesday 6th of April, 1983.



Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.67 standard years.

(Shadowcat is 22 years old).

Chemie likes to pretend she's her
whilst making me dance.
Contemporary Events

Diora Baird is born.  She's an actress and model, but also qualifies as a Person of Interest for the geeky, since she appeared in JJ Abrams' Star Trek reboot a few years ago.  Her scene was cut from the movie, but this still allows me to post a rare glimpse of the woman fully clothed.

(Actually, that's a nice little scene.  Space racism is hilarious!)

Standout Line

"So often it seems that we must choose -- not between good and bad but the lesser of two evils." - Storm.

[1] I loved the first issue of Wolverine & the X-Men, which was full of great lines, but I was particularly amused by this advice from Xavier to Logan "Keep the number handy for a good debris removal company.  No matter what you do, this place is bound to get blown up with alarming frequency."

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