Wednesday, 21 December 2011

UXM #158: "The Life That Late I Led..."

(Spy vs Spy.)


Ho ho ho, what's this?  If the cover to this book can be believed - and that's not always the case - we're about to enter a whole new era, that of Rogue's tenure specifically, and the idea of reformed supervillains joining the team (Changeling's retconned tenure and Mimic's three issues of being a colossal dick to everyone notwithstanding).

First, though, an update on the current state of play. Xavier is still in a coma, and the team is more or less just cooling its heels while it waits to see if he can recover.   They're joined in this rather tense holiday period by more than a few members of their extended family.  These include Carol Danvers, whose trying to gauge just how much skill Rogue has left her; Peter Corbeau, whose helping her by running drills and analysing the results; and the three non-terrestrial Starjammers (Scott has taken Corsair to Rio Diablo so he can meet his other son), who are trying to help by testing out exactly how difficult it is for them to beat Danvers to a bloody pulp. Spoiler alert: it's not so easily as they'd like.

Also present (aside from Illyana) are Lilandra, Moira, and the Imperial Guardsman Oracle, all of whom are bending their own unique talents (which in Lilandra's case is pretty much just the ability to give orders and look worried) to reviving Charles.  Oracle attempts a mind-link, but Xavier is far too gone, and far too powerful, for it to work - the professor immediately possesses Oracle and tries to use her to destroy himself.  Between them, Wolverine and Storm foil his plan, but no-one can work out why he tried it in the first place. Oracle couldn't help but see the creature inside Charles (still not specifically referred to as a Brood, but I doubt we're not supposed to recognise it), but found it so foul and evil she forced herself to forget it.  Which is damned convenient, to say nothing of flat-out unprofessional.  I doubt an oncologist would get very far arguing their patient's tumours were so horrific that she forget they were there at all.

Just to add to the X-Men's worries, Kitty catches an edition of Panorama being broadcast which features an interview with Senator Kelly explaining his views.  I actually rather like his presentation of his standpoint, not because I agree with it (though it's always a lot easier to disagree with such people when a) your main experience with mutants is the X-Men, and b) none of this is real), but because it seems so plausible as a political framework.  Kelly slides effortlessly between criticising mutants and those with super-powers, preventing his interviewer from pinning him down on the central point: the X-Men weren't acting any differently from any other group of superheroes (including the time they saved Kelly's life, of course).  By switching the goal-posts, Kelly's able to first argue that the problem is unsanctioned super-powered people, and then pirouette to claiming this makes all mutants a concern.  One is an action, the other is an identity, but Kelly's hoping that no-one will notice the distinction.

An uncommon approach, this is not.

The X-Men have more on their minds than rhetoric, though.  Back in happier times, Xavier gave a copy of the files on the original team to the U.S. Government (presumably through FBI Agent Duncan).  If Kelly really is gearing up for a round of investigative hearings (are those ever anything other than vicious farces?), then the team had better make sure he can't get his hands on their predecessor's info.

Not for the last time, then, the X-Men dispatch a team to break into the Pentagon.  On this occasion, Logan and Carol take the lead, dressed in their respective uniforms, and Ororo joins them in her finest civvies.  Things initially go well (though I love the fact that when Wolverine's skeleton sets off the metal detectors Storm is immediately terrified that he'll ruin everything by hacking everyone in sight to pieces), but this is Uncanny X-Men.  Going right is for other people.  Turns out our intrepid trio aren't the only people trying to worm their way into E-Ring (either this is another one of those unbelievable comic coincidences, or the Marvel Universe Pentagon's security is fucking terrible).  And, just to make things more interesting, it's Rogue, swanning around like she owns the place, and also the powers she's stolen from Carol.

In other circumstances, this could have led to something of a dilemma for the X-Men: would it be worth risking their own cover in order to unmask Rogue?  Indeed, if they didn't, it would in some sense already count against Kelly's plan: making mutants too scared of revealing themselves to help stop supervillains from breaking into government buildings doesn't seem like a smart strategy.  Of course, if Kelly wasn't being a dick in the first place, our heroes wouldn't have been there to see Rogue in the first place.  Kelly himself would probably also point out that having one group of mutants catch another group of mutants infiltrating the Pentagon whilst they're infiltrating the Pentagon themselves probably isn't a good argument for the benefits to society mutants could offer.

(If indeed that's what Rogue is doing there, Storm is terrified she's somehow working for Senator Kelly, which may or not be paranoia - I've genuinely forgotten).

It's a complex and difficult issue, is my point.  It's also entirely academic, because the instant Carol catches sight of Rogue, nothing matters but vengeance.  The resulting fracas ends inconclusively; Rogue steals Wolverine's powers, but Storm escapes in one direction (carrying the unconscious Logan), and Carol sneaks off towards the main computer.

Both have been followed, however.  Rogue uses Wolverine's senses to track down Storm, and Carol finds herself being trailed by Mystique, though she only works that out once the shapeshifter has shot her in the head.  It's lucky an ageless assassin like Mystique still needs to bend right over a fallen enemy to check they're dead, huh?  Where would fiction be if it were possible to use a pistol to shoot a motionless target from several feet away?

Fortunately, even in a world stuffed with the super-powered (if you listen to Senator Kelly, at least), such an act would be impossible to credit, which means that Carol gets to jump to her feet [1]  and beat Mystique into a pulp.  Meanwhile, Storm manages the same trick with Rogue (having called in Nightcrawler, who's been waiting for the go to teleport in as back-up, which is neat).  With little time before the MPs are crawling all over the place (or Rogue shakes off the tornado Storm packed her into and comes back for Round 2), the X-Men beat a hasty retreat.  Carol follows at a more leisurely pace, having deleted both the X-Men's files and her own.  Which I suppose makes a weird kind of sense, from the perspective of wanting to start a new life, and no sense at all, from the perspective of wanting to walk unchallenged out of a Pentagon on maximum alert.

Still, fair play to her, it works like a charm.  Mission accomplished.  Next time around: Dracula!


This is the first issue in which Kitty describes herself as being fourteen years old.  By our timeline, her birthday was somewhere around a fortnight earlier, sometime during the team's move from the mansion to Magneto's island.

The Panorama programme that the X-Men watch describes the team's fight with the Brood in New York as taking place "just days ago".  It's not clear how long ago the program was originally broadcast, though - would the X-Men get it in the Bahamas straight away?  Or are they using their extensive array of computer banks to receive signals direct from the source?

Either way, we're also told that it's been a week since Cyclops learned that Corsair was his father, so we'll assume this story takes place seven days after the Sidri destroy Xavier's mansion.


Tuesday 13th April, 1983.



Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.72 standard years.

(Colossus is 25 years old).

"<Those are Martians, little Snowflake.>"
Contemporary Events

Despite trade union activities having been banned by the military government, a meeting of the heads of the twelve largest trade unions in Bangladesh brings about the formation of Sramik Kharmachari Oikya Parishad, a mainstream trade union movement.  Their actions led to the re-establishment of trade union rights just over a year later.

Standout Line

"That fight in New York destroyed a 200-million dollar building -- hardly the act of heroes."

Has Senator Kelly ever watched or been told about a superhero fight.  Like, ever?  There's a reason Damage Control had a job.

(Also: my Other Half has suggested I keep a closer eye on the degree of implausible boobage displayed in any given issue.  What do people think?)


  1. Wait, Piotr is 25 here... So how old is Kitty ?
    Sorry Mr Space Squid but I need a minute... <:(


  2. Ah! Clearly it's time to restate how the timings work. My calculation (based on the compression constant) suggest that Colossus is 25 years old right now, as in at the time of UXM Volume 2 #3. Indeed, he's only days away from his 26th birthday. Kitty, in comparison, is only a few days past her 22nd birthday.

  3. either this is another one of those unbelievable comic coincidences, or the Marvel Universe Pentagon's security is fucking terrible

    Claremont never quite spells it out, but Uncanny #185 reveals that the Brotherhood's base is a secret room within the Pentagon, meaning that they have, for all intents and purposes, infiltrated it, and that Rogue probably does walk around it feeling like she owns it. :)

  4. Really? I'd completely forgotten that. I'll make sure to bear this in mind when I get round to UXM #185 in a few weeks.

  5. Like I said, it's subtle. A narrative caption describes the room Mystique's in as being deep within the pentagon or some such, and the visual of the room makes it clear it's the same room the Brotherhood gathered in before attacking Kelly in #141.