Sunday, 18 December 2011

UXM #157: "Hide-'N'-Seek!"

(Playing dress-up.)


We left the X-Men having escaped Deathbird and her Brood allies, but having sustained too much damage to the Starjammer in the process for them to get back to Earth before Araki's deadline ran out, and humanity ended up in the red, homeworld-wise.

The issue opens with the two teams (both "heroes in the truest sense of the word", the narration assures us, though Corsair's callous willingness to murder dozens of civilians whenever it makes his life easier rather puts the lie to that) co-operating to repair the ship.  They've even found a space-suit for Wolverine that has gaskets through which he can extend his claws.  Space science.  Is there anything it can't do?

Well, apparently it's not too keen on letting Russkies into space - Logan is convinced that whilst hardly any humans at all have gotten this far out (just inside Pluto's orbit, apparently), none of them will have been from the CCCP.  Really?  The vast array of interstellar lifeforms that keep using our shining blue sphere as galactic pit-stop all took our side in the Cold War?  Let's not who got into space first, tovarisch.

Stung by this remark, or possibly having been stabbed in the heart that morning, Colossus keels over, and has to be rushed over to Sikorsky - the universe's most anatomy-savvy mechanical dragonfly.  I love Sikorsky.  Not only is he an excellent doctor, and a firm adherent of the Master Yoda School of dialogue inversion, but he's not even remotely afraid to grab hold of Wolverine and chuck him out the door when the latter is being an arse.

We're saved from the rather uncomfortable sight of Logan attempting to claw open the med-bay door so he can "assist" in some life-saving surgery (and/or murder the surgeon) by a summons from the bridge - Lilandra can't get ahold of Araki to arrest the countdown.  Hardly surprising from our perspective: Samedar has killed the poor bastard.  I've still no clue as to why the Admiral Lord is so keen on obliterating Earth (it can't even have anything to do with killing Lilandra in the process, since Deathbird took her off-world), but it's definitely one step closer to happening.  At least this crisis has brought Cyclops and Corsair closer together, I suppose.  Every intergalactic planet-killing space ray mushroom cloud has a silver lining, I suppose (especially for Galactus, the Skrulls, the Z'Nox, and so on).

Luckily, there's a back-up plan, and Xavier deploys his mighty mutant mind to contact Kitty and Kurt.  For a moment it works, and another cortex download begins, but it all goes horribly wrong when the professor discovers "an anomaly within himself", and lapses into a coma.  And what is this mysterious invader?  Well, it looks an awful lot like a Brood, only even closer to a Geiger xenomorph than usual, which probably isn't a good sign.  Indeed, the Brood are intent on acquiring the full team to act as "breeders", a term which at this point doesn't seem to need any translating, and are willing to forgive Deathbird the casualties and damage her coup has caused them this far in exchange for her promise to provide a mutant smorgasbord.

Back on the Shi'ar flagship, Nightcrawler and Sprite have pieced together enough of Xavier's abortive signal to realise they're in trouble.  Kurt has sprung into action immediately, and with the engineering skills and total dedication that typifies the Teutonic peoples, he's built a portable costume generator.  Useful.  That'll come in damn handy if Herr Wagner finds out he's watching the inevitable destruction of his homeworld with someone else in the same outfit.  Kitty's plan is somewhat more proactive: to generate a pressure suit and bypass their guards by walking along the hull.  Unfortunately, the costume generator can't provide oxygen tanks (which seems strange, you'd think at the very least they'd be able to create something you could store standard atmospheric gases in, even if it wasn't concentrated O2), meaning Kitty will have to hold her breath the whole way.

This, by the way, is one of the most impressive things I've ever seen Shadowcat do.  That might just be my extreme phobia of suffocation talking, though [1].  At any rate, she makes the trip, and arrives outside her erstwhile cell just in time to witness a trio of Shi'ar warriors psyching themselves up to brutally execute everyone inside.  Their efforts fail thanks to Kitty's warning, and now both she and Kurt are loose, armed and dangerous!

It's a bit too late for Chancellor Araki, though, he's already undergone an involuntary chestectomy.  Sprite is horrified to see his still-smoking body, which is a nice touch in a medium which, even at this point, is beginning to sink into the trap of mistaking body counts for drama.  Not unreasonably, they assume Samedar is responsible, which means it's time for a plan B, B in this case standing for "Dress Kitty up as Phoenix and use her to scare the shit out of the Shi'ar."

Looks like Kurt's portable costume generator came up trumps after all.  Who could possibly have seen that coming?

Whilst the duo perform their one act play "Phoenix's Back and She'll be Melting Your Face Now", they spirit away Oracle, a telepathic member of the Imperial Guard who can read their minds and confirm their story.  Once that's done (which takes a while because Kitty has deliberately dressed as the scariest thing imaginable to everyone on board), Oracle summons her fellow guardsmen to explain the situation.  Unfortunately, though, not all of them are as loyal to Lilandra as she is - a lot of the "border" guardsmen report to Samedar directly, which is a nice burst of politics in the middle of a rather black and white story.

Needless to say, the two groups of Imperial Guards start smacking each other around the head, but the distraction has gone on long enough for the Starjammer to arrive in time for Lilandra to demand the armada stand down.  It's perhaps a little anti-climactic, but you have to give Kurt and Kitty credit for raising enough hell for it to happen.  Plus, Earth (and Colossus) might be saved, but Xavier's still in a coma.  So there's always that.


This story takes place over the course of several hours.

I've decided I've gotten a little bored of constantly trawling through pictures of pretty twenty-two year old women, so in the interests of fairness, we're going to be using Colossus as our time-keeper for a while.  If we assume he's only just turned eighteen (thus minimising the nastiness factor of him cavorting around with a thirteen year old), we can assume he was thirteen himself when the original team formed.

This issue also marks the first time since this project begins that the publication date and the timeline date are within a year of each other.  At this rate, the two should meet around UXM #170.


Thursday 8th April, 1983.



Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.72 standard years.

(Colossus is 25 years old).

"It is so hard to think..."
Contemporary Events

Standout Line

"Slaying a friend is always... distasteful." - Admiral Lord Samedar.

[1] I blame my childhood asthma, which was so bad I needed to be plugged into a nebuliser every day for years as a child.  That, or it's the time my mother let me play with her engagement ring and I immediately swallowed it, coming a hair's breadth from choking to death.  Apparently, I was only saved when my father held my upside-down over the bath and started punching me in the stomach.  Still, you can't argue with success.

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