Saturday, 24 December 2011

UXM #159: "Night Screams!"

(Bleeding inconvenience.)


Spring Break!  The X-Men have relocated to New York City whilst Moira tends to their stricken mentor.  And what better way to usher in some R&R time than to charge uninvited into your friend's apartment?  You can't just teleport into the middle of someone's flat, Nightcrawler! What if Misty had been getting her sexytimes on, huh?

Kurt Wagner.  Sisterbanger and sex pest.  A few years after this, he joins the priesthood.

Worse still, Misty isn't even in, so the team just end up freaking out her roommate.  She's a famous model, apparently, which is lucky for Kurt; it gives him someone to perve over whilst Logan steals beer from the fridge.  These are clearly not people you want in your house, even before you consider the chances of a supervillain attack or Sentinel strike when their scrounging Twiglets from your bottom cupboards, but Harmony takes it well, apparently out of a desire to see Colossus naked.

Apparently this sojourn into the city is to allow Kitty to meet up with her parents (something which clearly requires the entire team - sans Cyclops, still visiting Alex and Lorna with his father), so Harmony graciously offers Kitty and Ororo some street clothes for dinner.  I'm not sure why Sprite didn't just bring her own clothes, and what's happened to Storm's deeply impressive ability to change her threads at will, but the resulting delay does allow Wolverine the time to steal an entire six-pack, so it clearly wasn't effort wasted.

Being prettied up by supermodels can have its cost, however.  It soon becomes apparent that Storm has gone missing after leaving Kitty and her parents.  Soon after, the team are phoned to tell them Ororo has been admitted to hospital.  She's been attacked, her throat slashed causing extreme blood-loss, but nothing was stolen.  "Mugging by a maniac" is the hospital's best guess. You'd think the X-Men might be smart enough to connect the dots - it's not like they haven't fought demons and sorcerers, plus they went to Hell that time - but I guess everyone's too worried about Ororo to think clearly.  In any case, she's made a miraculous (one might even say.. supernatural?) recovery, though the incident has left her somewhat wary of the night, which seems entirely fair enough.

Despite such misgivings, Storm discharges herself from hospital, and is put to bed in Misty's room.  Once her friends have departed, though, it's time to throw open the windows and invite in the Prince of Darkness.  Man, Dracula would have been so scuppered if Misty's windows had been a bit smaller.  That's why vampires are all so insufferably bourgeois: it's not snobbishness, it's just about the likely distribution of bay windows.

Over the next two days Storm becomes allergic to sunlight, unwilling to leave her bed, and starts wearing a silk scarf sporting an ornate "D" around the neck wound that seemingly didn't puncture the jugular but still resulted in severe blood loss.  None of the X-Men find this strange, and just assume Storm has given up on life.  Kitty pieces it together in five minutes the moment she returns from visiting her folks, and heads off to get supplies.

Sure enough, Dracula returns by the light of the moon, but before Ororo can give herself completely to him, Kitty returns, dressed as Van Helsing and brandishing a crucifix.  The cross itself turns out to be no use at all, but the Star of David Kitty wears around her neck gets the job done, and Dracula flies off into the night.  Unfortunately, Storm can also fly, and she heads off after her new prince, warning Kitty that following them is a sure way to end up dead.

(As an aside, I've always been a big fan of the idea that the methods of scaring away vampires would be faith-specific.  There's an old film - who's name I've unfortunately forgotten - that introduced the idea that a Jewish vampire would only be scared of Stars of David.  That's a neat idea, but I think it works even better when it's the person brandishing the artifact whose faith matters.  Indeed, that then immediately raises the question: how does an atheist see off a vampire.  To my knowledge, the only story to deal with this was "The Curse of Fenric", still my favourite Doctor Who adventure by some distance, in which it was suggested that your best course of action was believing that your cause was just, or that there's always some subset of your friends that you can trust without question.)

Kitty fills in the team on what's gone down, but of course not everyone believes her.  "Are you sure she didn't just flip out?" Logan asks, which is logically equivalent to asking "Are you sure you didn't just imagine motherfucking Dracula, huh?"  Even the scarf doesn't sway him: it's apparently much more likely she borrowed it from Misty or Harmony so as to look particularly rakish in bed.  Clearly Wolverine sees no contradiction in a woman who no longer wants to live but still wants to look preppy in her death bed.  Fortunately, Kurt's from Bavaria, and they take the "vampyr" seriously over there (when they're not busy draining their litre glasses of weissbier, of course).  And even Logan has to admit that having Storm flying around whilst clearly off her nut is probably a low quality idea.

And so, the X-Men go hunting, and find Storm's scent trail ends in Central Park.  Apparently, Dracula has taken up residence in Belvedere Castle, which rather suggests he hasn't taken advantage of his centuries-long life to learn anything about decent architecture.

Dracula comes out to meet them, and to set a variety of supernaturally-enhanced rats and dogs against them.  The creatures themselves aren't too much of a problem, but once Dracula himself gets involved, things very much take a turn for the worst, and not even Wolverine's attempt to form a crucifix with two crossed claws can save them.

However, the scuffle (that'd be a great Hammer film, wouldn't it? The Scuffle of Dracula) does by time for Kitty to sneak into the castle, holy water in hand, on a mission to sanctify Dracula's coffin.  Storm quickly finds her, however, and announces that Sprite's next up for an involuntary undeading.  Kitty's kind of surprised that Storm has turned so quickly (she's putting an awful lot of faith in the idea that Dracula is a rigorous historical document), but refuses to fight her.

Outside, Dracula is the last freak standing, and is apparently playing "Eenie Meanie" over which X-Man to brutally slaughter first.  Kitty's impassioned pleas have shaken Storm out of Dracula's grasp, however (that's "Power Of Wuv" ending number 26,381, if you're wondering), and denouncing him, she forces him away with a violent hailstorm.  Dracula tries again to dominate her, but her resistance has become too strong, and ultimately, the Prince of Darkness realises that there is little point in forcing a woman to become his queen.  He departs empty-handed (pointing out to Storm that whilst he has no further use for her, threatening him remains an exceptionally bad idea), and for the moment, our heroes have won the day.

Except... exactly what has Ororo become?  She is free of Dracula's control, but not of his bite.  Is this really the end of the story?  Maybe not.  But there's no time to worry about that now: Moira's on the phone.  Professor Xavier has taken a turn for the worse!


This story begins on a Friday evening, and ends after sunrise on Monday.


Friday 16th to Monday 19th April, 1983.


X+5Y+16 to X+5Y+19.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.73 standard years.

(Colossus is 25 years old).

"Be calm, tovarisch."
Contemporary Events

63 people are killed when the U.S. Embassy in Beirut is bombed.

Standout Line

"Great White North, Eh?" - Wolverine's beer of choice.

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