Tuesday, 31 January 2012

DAZ #9: "The Sound And The Fury!"

(Tested to destruction.)


Last time around we watched Dazzler being bundled into a black limousine to meet the mysterious "Mr Meeker".  Today we learn that it's Meeker who's been following her around over the last few days.  The car takes them to part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where a jetcopter (presumably designed to allow maximum speed whilst also keeping the Cloisters grass nice and tidy) is waiting for Meeker and Alison.  Ignoring her questions, he flies her to a secret base in Mount Athena, somewhere north of NYC.

Dazzler, we learn, has been "recruited" by Project PEGASUS ( Potential Energy Group / Alternate Sources / United States), who are looking for ways to harness mutants' power as energy sources.  That's actually a really good idea, and one I've always been surprised doesn't pop up more often.  It's also probably not surprising that the US would be so lax regarding the definition of a volunteer.  You have to begrudgingly admire a bunch of Feds so amoral and wrapped in double-think that they can argue Alison has come of her own free will since they didn't actually point their guns at her, and then immediately imply that if she leaves, they'll out her as a mutant in the flesh.  Nice bunch.

Fortunately for them, and Alison, they have an ace up their sleeve, the apparently exceedingly dashing superhero Quasar (real name "Wendell", which explains his desire for an alternative identity).  One look at him, and Dazzler becomes far less concerned with such nebulous concepts as "freedom", or the fact she already has a man back home.  In don't mind so much that Dazzler's potential new employers thought up this plan, but the fact it works so completely doesn't say much for how much grasp Fingeroth has on the workings of the female mind.

Especially since Quasar is clearly an idiot, ending Dazzler's tour as he does with a look around "the compound", where various super-villains are held.  For one, what could possibly make someone think a "super-hero type" like Alison would want to take a look at the opposition? ("Hi, Death Dave, this is Dazzler.  Remember her face next time you escape and start up a murderous rampage, huh?")? Second, why would you show a mutant that you've got another mutant locked away, whilst admitting that he's not actually a criminal, just a man with the mind of a child who needs keeping inside a special "crib"?  (Luckily, Dazzler doesn't mind, because of Wendell's well-defined forearms, or something, because that is how women roll.)  Finally, when showing off a devious criminal like the Klaw, wouldn't you keep an eye on whether he's typing out messages to your guest, whether you're talking into your radio or not?

"DON'T TRUST THEM!" warns Klaw.  "SOON YOU'LL BE A PRISONER LIKE THE REST OF US!"  Which I can well believe, actually, given their behaviour so far, and if they turn out not be arrogant, manipulative, heartless thugs, well, they've only got themselves to blame for painting that picture to begin with.

Over the next week, whilst her phone rings off the hook from calls from those desperate for contact and/or for a booty call, Dazzler is subjected to a veritable cannonade of tests.  Most of them require her to wear a bikini, for some reason (this book really isn't doing too well on the Germaine Greer scale of feminism, I'd say it's at least four arrogantly raised Greer eyebrows, which as we all know, is only one short of being convertible into a withered Greer titty).  Once she's finished, though, the duplicitous suits demand another round of poking and prodding, and reveal the permission form she signed for the first round of experiments actually contained a clause allowing them to study her pretty much indefinitely.

Dazzler's plussed is decidedly non-, and so it's time for a prison break.  That's the plan, at least, but Quasar intercepts and easily defeats her. Exhausted by the fight, Alison slinks back to her quarters.

The next day, she arrives at breakfast in full Dazzler regalia, which is kind of worrying.  When a superhero carries her costume around with her, that's prudence.  When a singer carries her stage gear, it's unchecked narcissism, especially when they believe wearing it during the work day will cheer them up.  Not that Quasar is really helping; he's still busy trying to explain how wonderful PEGASUS is and how important their work is.  Confinement always looks different to those with no desire to leave.

I suppose Wendell can have some credit for persuading the PEGASUS brass not to keep Dazzler under 24 hour guard (though even that highlights how unconcerned he is that Dazzler has moved from volunteering through blackmail to being actually kept prisoner), but apparently his arguments were a little too good, because the guards seem perfectly happy to let her walk through the criminal-stocked compound without an escort.  The reader will not be surprised to learn that this goes horribly wrong.  Once again, Klaw sends her a message as she passes, warning her that the latest test he is will be forced to undergo will be excruciatingly painful.  As two PEGASUS flunkies approach his cell with what looks like cattle-prods scaled up to take down a brachiosaur, Klaw's concerns seem entirely plausible.  Dazzler also recalls how badly wrong everyone in authority is about the Hulk, which is a nice touch.  Ordinarily I might think all this "arrogance breeds mistrust and resentment" stuff is a little trowelled-on, but this is the US government we're talking about, so I'm not sure overstatement is possible.

Klaw feigns agony so convincingly that Dazzler snaps, using her light powers to force back the dinosaur-prodders, accidentally allowing Klaw to escape in the process.  He demonstrates his gratitude by flooring her with his sound-gun (which I'd think might have been worth confiscating at some point, but, whatever) and carving his way through the assorted nearby mooks.  Quasar wades in to try and help, but Klaw has spent his imprisonment figuring out exactly what tactics to use to beat Wendell, and so he lasts no longer than Dazzler.

Speaking of which, however, Dazzler isn't the smear on the polished floor Klaw has assumed.  Hitting a mutant who absorbs background noise with a beam of pure sound turns out to be a pretty bad idea.  In truth, Alison isn't particularly keen on her all-new, all-glowing status, especially since Klaw failed to kill her but succeeded entirely in hurting like Hell.  Even so, she's determined not to let the villain kill Quasar, the least gittish person she's met inside Mount Athena.  Klaw has a grill that must be got up in.

Except as little damage as sound-waves can do to her, her own light powers are even less use against someone comprised entirely of sound (answers on a postcard regarding what the fuck that means, exactly).  A rather more sound mind (no pun intended) than Klaw's would recognise a stalemate when presented with one, and just depart.  Klaw's hackles are up, though, and so he gives killing Dazzler another go, only to find that this time, she's unshakable.  Indeed, he's managed to set up a feedback loop.  The more sound he fires, the more she absorbs; the more she absorbs, the more powerful she becomes, and the quicker the absorption rate becomes.

By the time Klaw works this out, it's too late.  Alison is sucking up every sound within range, including him.  Even the sound of his own horrifying death doesn't escape, which is a pretty cool splash of grimness.  Dazzler manages to stop the chain reaction, and release some of the energy roiling inside her by burning a tunnel out of the mountain.  Naturally, her scientific jailers are overjoyed by this new surge in ability, musing aloud about the opportunities this presents "for science!"  Disgusted by this reaction to a man's death just seconds before, Dazzler uses her new powers to fly through the tunnel toward freedom. 

But power is not control, of course, and within moments, Alison loses control of her flight, begins involuntarily blasting apart her surroundings, and collapses upon the mountainside.

Meanwhile, a billion light years away, a robotic figure observes Dazzler's plight upon its viewscreen.  It pronounces itself impressed with the degree of power on display.  It has, we learn, grow so large that it will be perfect for the robot's master, Galactus, to use as a mid-morning snack...


This issue follows on directly from DAZ #8.  Dazzler describes her various probing sessions as having occurred over "the last week", and during her absence Johnny Storm mentions he'd arranged to meet up with Alison "this week".  We also have to take into account the week Dr Paul has been at his conference, though who knows what crazy timetables these medical doctors keep.

All told, I think we can get away with assuming Dazzler stays with PEGASUS from Thursday to Wednesday before her first escape attempt.  The issue ends on the following day.


Thursday 12th to Thursday 19th of January, 1983.


 X+4Y+277 to X+4Y+284.

Contemporary Events

Klaus Barbie is arrested in Bolivia.

Imran Kahn, Julian Morris and Samantha Mumba are born.

Standout Line

"Then go ahead, you slime!  Do it!  And you'd better make sure I'm dead, or else I'll find you again somday, and somehow I'll make you pay!"
"Brave words.  I shall remember them for at least a week." - Dazzler and Klaw.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

UXM #163: "Rescue Mission!"

("To save thousands of lives, turn to 363.  To whine like a dick and acheive nothing, turn to 25.")


Ooh, this is interesting. Apparently we've started off at Brood University, Broodtown!!  Presumably, Broo might end up here one day, if he keeps up with his schoolwork and agrees to start eating people.

Right now, Scholar ScienceBrood is giving a lecture to some visiting academics about the difficulties posed by Carol Danvers weird-ass DNA.  Shit's so messed up they don't want to risk implanting her, which means there's nothing to be done but constantly torture for shits and giggles, and see what interesting forms they can morph her into.  All in the name of science, obviously.  You cannot stand in the way of progress, gentlemen!

Unless you're Wolverine, of course, who breaks into the lecture theatre and summarily rips apart everything he can find with more than two legs.  Now that's how exposition should be handled!  Logan frees Carol from the Brood machines by slashing up the surrounding hardware until she falls naked from the central chamber.  Which is pretty lucky, but Wolverine admits as much - there wasn't really any alternative.  Once he's found the spaced-out but otherwise just-about-OK Carol a convenient yet oddly revealing robe for her to put on, the two of them head off to find the rest of the team.

Back on Earth, Xavier's mansion is in the early stages of reconstruction, but those gathered there - Havok, Polaris, Corsair and Moira, have other concerns.  Havok is furious over his brother's kidnapping, whilst Moira is mainly worried that the loss of the X-Men and Lilandra at the same time might destroy Xavier completely.  Corsair takes her aside and announces he's heading back into space (secretly, so he can leave Alex safe behind) to find his eldest son, or avenge him.

And what of Cyclops himself?  He's stuck in the same endless nightmare as the other X-Men, past experiences mixed in sloppily with visions of the Brood.  Eventually though he's rescued by Xavier, or by an image of Xavier, presumably speaking for his subconscious.  Whoever or whatever is talking, the message is simple: "You've been trained to resist psionic attacks".

The reminder gives him the strength he needs to claw his way back to consciousness.  He finds himself in a strange room, in an alien landscape, and in torn and tattered clothing.  Storm is with him, similarly bedraggled and still unconscious.  Whatever dreams afflict her, they're causing her to call down the lightning playing across the sky outside.  Risking whatever mental damage that might result, Scott shakes Ororo awake, and they flee from the building.  Just outside, they meet up with Logan, who's been following their scent.  A few minutes later, and they've found the rest of the X-Men, though Lilandra is still missing.

Our heroes split into two teams. Storm, Nightcrawler and Sprite head upwards through the gigantic rib-bones surrounding the city, in the hopes of liberating Lilandra's yacht, tethered there in the upper atmosphere.  Cyclops, Colossus, Carol and the Canuck, meanwhile, head off on a rescue mission to liberate Lilandra herself.  That plan lasts just as long as it takes for Logan to find a fork in the tunnel ahead.  Left leads to Lilandra, right to the Brood Queen.  Gods, but I hate this kind of "Choose Your Own Adventure" crap in fiction.  If Logan just happened to have picked up the scent at some point, that would be fine; it's the two identical openings that might as well have doors with numbers painted on that annoys me.

Anyway, this sudden dilemma causes an argument.  Logan wants to kill the Queen immediately, whilst Cyclops is clinging to the team's standard "We doth not kill" philosophy.  I'd say that at a minimum I'm 90% with Wolverine here, and a lot of the wavering is entirely because it might have made more sense for him to tell Cyclops exactly what was going on, rather than just get all annoyed and shouty.

Still, we know that Cyclops at least already suspects what's inside himself and Ororo, which means he already has a fairly good handle on what's going on here (though he claims ignorance a few panels later).  This isn't a bunch of individual villains, or people who've killed because they've gone mad, or potentially reformable criminals who Cyclops doesn't want to kill over philosophical or political differences, no matter how extreme.  This is a race whose entire existence is based on kidnapping and torturing other sentient species, before inflicting agonising death.  Every Brood which surrounds them in this corpse-nestled city required some other thinking organism to be eaten out from the inside.  Letting the Brood live is like giving cancer a pass because it's learned to talk.  Secret motivations notwithstanding, Cyclops is pretty much playing the Burke role here, which isn't a good look for anyone.

(Well, perhaps you could argue he's taking Guinan's position in "I, Borg", which puts him in a better light.  The difference there, of course, is that Guinan knows that it is physically possible to rescue someone from the Collective.  Had he decided that the difficulties of doing so on anything like the scale necessary to negate the Borg threat, and wiped them out anyway, I'm far from sure I'd have objected.  Since there's no reason to believe this is true with the Brood - who themselves believe the process is irreversible - we're clearly not in that situation).

The closest I can get to Scott's position here is the fact that Wolverine has no reason to believe killing the Queen will do any good.  It might just delay the inevitable.  Hell, it might cause the Brood to attack Earth, which isn't exactly the best scenario I've heard lately.  Wolverine is entirely right when he points out that this is a war - abducting Lilandra and slaying her council was unquestionably casus belli against the Shi'ar, no matter what Deathbird might argue if she takes the throne - and even if the Shi'ar and Earth aren't allied to the point where we could claim casus foederis (and I'm pretty sure we couldn't), the X-Men have been abducted, tortured and in effect slated to be executed by a foreign power that has already murdered citizens of Earth on its own soil. 

Put it all together, and Cyclops' stand doesn't read as principled, so much as cowardly.  Well, maybe prudent is a better word, but disguising caution as moral superiority doesn't win one too many points either.

In any case, the X-Men have only just begun the argument when a Brood patrol finds them, and a fight breaks out.  Carol slips through the enemy and frees Lilandra, whilst Wolverine swipes his way to an encounter with the queen herself.  By now reinforcements are pouring in from all directions, though, meaning a withdrawal might well be impossible even if anyone can convince Wolverine to try it.

Miles above, Storm has carried Sprite and Nightcrawler to the limit of her range. Nightcrawler teleports Sprite the few remaining miles to the Z'reee Shar (an exceptionally difficult jaunt, which they almost don't survive), whilst Storm distracts an incoming Brood patrol vessel.  Since Kurt can't teleport inside the ship without knowing where he's going, and because Kitty isn't yet able to phase anything beyond her body and whatever she's wearing (don't get any ideas, 'Crawler - stick to incest), the plan is for her to go in alone and open an airlock to let Nightcrawler through.  Since they're still inside the planetary atmosphere, Nightcrawler has a few minutes in which he won't quite freeze and won't quite asphyxiate, but the timing is damned tight, and it doesn't help that Kitty stumbles across a Brood guard just seconds after she enters the ship.

Sprite manages to lure the Brood into an airlock with her, but finds herself unable to flush it into space.  This makes a lot more sense than Cyclops' earlier anti-killing stand, because Kitty's not trying to invoke any kind of grand principle, she just doesn't want to end up a callous murderer like Wolverine.  In other words, if she's being selfish (and the fact that her dithering might well kill Kurt would rather support that hypothesis), she's at least prepared to admit it.

Fortunately for her, the alien manages to space itself, which really pissed me off as a massive cop-out at first, but on reflection is maybe just about bearable considering the Brood presumably knew little to nothing about Shi'ar controls systems.  How Kitty avoided the same fate is another question; I guess we're supposed to assume she can phase herself through the decompression, much as she can gravity. Nightcrawler has just about survived outside, and she drags him in.

Down on "Sleazeworld", Wolverine has finally gotten within killing distance of the Queen.  But wouldn't you know it?  Before he can deliver the final thrust, the Z'Reee Shar beams everyone up, and the X-Men head from the system as fast as possible.

That might not be fast enough, though.  They're still too close to the local star to enter warp space, and the whole of the Brood armada is liable to be converging on their position.  Indeed, something has the Shi'ar yacht in its sights right now, and is preparing to fire...


Once again, we're at the mercy of an alien planet's rotational speed, but from Wolverines comment about it taking almost a full day and night to get back to the city, and the several hours that the story itself seems to unwind over, it doesn't seem unreasonable to place this adventure as taking place on the Earth day following the last one.

Watching the mansion get rebuilt also tells us two things: this issue must take place before the New Mutants' introduction in MGN #4, and UXM Annual #6 now makes even less sense than it did at the time.


Monday 21st of May, 1983.



Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.74 standard years.

(Colossus is 25 years old.)

"Cyclops, I am confused."
Contemporary Events
Kenneth Clarke dies, though not the one we might have hoped for, were we less charitable souls.
Standout Line

"Dzilos, provide some refreshments for our guests".

The Brood scholars might be a touch on the vicous and torture-happy side, but you can't deny that they make sure seminars come accompanied with tea and biscuits.  We used to have cake, actually, but then we never got to turn hot naked ladies into various different monsters.  Had to make up for that somehow.

Friday, 27 January 2012

DAZ #8: "Hell... Hell Is For Harry!"

(Technical difficulties.)


(Man, that's a shitty cover. Dazzler looks like she's been assimilated by two giant Borg-oranges that she's stuffed into her catsuit.  When will people learn that oranges are our sworn foes?)

Right now

Up in Harry S. Osgood's office, the big man himself - along with Lance, the pretty-boy with the brownest nose in showbiz - is watching performance tapes of Dazzler, trying to work out how her trademark SFX are created.  Frustrated by the mystery, he phones up Alison (interrupting another now-abortive date with Paul), and demands she present herself forthwith.

When faced with the actual question, Alison realises she's in something of a bind.  Does she risk being fired by keeping her mouth shut, or risk her safety by outing herself as a mutant.  For that matter, how likely is it that Osgood would be willing to keep a mutant on the books in any case?  If a few dozen people in a subway station are prepared to rip your limbs off for foiling a mugging, it seems entirely plausible that your employment prospects are similarly precarious, especially since you've been a risky proposition from the get-go.

There's kind of an interesting moral question under all of this: are there people who have the right to know you're a mutant?  Not just because they're at risk of a supervillain attack or the arrival of an angry mob at any moment, but because much as we might wish otherwise, mutants as a group are dangerous within themselves.  Even those that seem stable could undergo an extreme secondary mutation at any time (though of course that wasn't a feature of mutants when this issue was published).  There's obviously a lot of in-universe and real world dislike of Senator Kelly-style mandatory registration, but it doesn't follow from that that there isn't some kind of moral duty here.  Indeed, it's possible that consciously or otherwise Harry suspects Alison is a mutant, and wants confirmation (it's also almost certainly the case that Harry's interest is born out of concern for public safety, as we'll see later).

I don't really have an answer to any of that; I just thought it was worth considering.  In any event, Dazzler's decision on the matter is to tell Harry to piss off.

Whilst Dazzler heads home to sulk/plan a new career, and Harry is off on some errand perhaps best left unconsidered, the Enforcers (hired last issue by Villainous McHideyface to kill Dazzler's amply-proportioned managed) break into Osgood's rehearsal room - currently occupied by Lance and one of Osgood's other bands, who apparently also feature a female singer who Lance is attempting to get into bed - and start smashing the place up.  Lance's self-preservation instincts once again overtake his bravado, and he meekly watches as the mercenary trio break windows, amps, and a century-old Steinway piano.  Now that is just low.  If music industry bigwigs have to be rubbed out, then that's something I believe I can live with, but leave the antiques out of it.  Harry himself returns halfway through but, seeing the damage being done inside, beats a hasty retreat.

Once the Enforcers run out of things to smash ("Destroy all objects!", as we used to say when trying to maximise our vandalism in games of Umbrella Chronicles) they head back to their employer's Twin Tower offices for further instructions.  In addition to new marching orders, they get to see exactly who's pulling their strings:

Not pictured: the awesome bionic hands that led me to briefly hope he was Doctor Claw.

Techmaster figures Harry is too smart to have hidden at home, and this proves to be true, he's headed over to Dazzler's apartment instead.  Alison, of course, wants to know just what the Hell is going on, which means it's flashback time!

Several years earlier

Harry's putting together a titanic New Year's Eve disco bash, and he hires special effects guru Billy "Techmaster" Bitzer.  Bitzer's new ideas are a bit low on what people in the trade call "basic safety precautions", and Osgood is forced to refuse permission for Bitzer's Massive Random Internal Roof Lightning Explosion, or whatever Billy wants to call it.

Billy, of course, completely ignores these instructions, sets his machine off, kills someone, finds the emergency shut-off is fused, kills a bunch more people, gets his hands blown off, starts screaming in pain (accompanied by the sound ofmore people getting killed) and finally has his face melted by one of his own lightning bolts.

Naturally, he blames Harry.

The last days of disco

There's not much time for Dazzler to absorb Harry's story, because the Enforcers have found them!  They effortlessly cow Alison (if only she had some kind of superpower!) and abduct Harry, smashing the phone on the way out to prevent her summoning help.

Once the coast is clear and Alison has calmed down, realises she needs to head out to a payphone.  Time is of the essence!  Why, she barely has time to strip down to her underwear.  Once suitably attired, she goes down to the street, and tries in vain to persuade first the police (who aren't interested) and then Lance (who isn't home) to come with her as she cases out the disco hall (now supermarket) where Bitzer was originally hurt.  Eventually, she faces up to the fact that she'll have to go in alone (if only she had some kind of superpower!), aside from the taxi driver who gets her there.  She's barely finished paying him and watching him drive off when a gun-toting hood gets the drop on her (if only she had...!), and brings her into the shopping centre.

Inside she's reunited with a now hogtied Harry, along with the Enforcers, who are rather pleased about the unexpected arrival of a nice bit of entertainment.  Luckily for our heroine, though, the three villains have set up shop (no pun intended) near the supermarket's tannoy system, and she's able to lunge towards it and turn it on full blast.  The resulting tsunami of music allows her to dazzle the Enforcers and escape.  Then she's captured again.  Then she escapes.  Then she's captured again.  All in the space of four pages, which might just explain why no-one thinks to turn the music off.  I realise Ox is too stupid and Montana probably too inbred to have figured it out, but what's Fancy Dan's excuse?  Too fancy?  Or is his ridiculous hat so tight it's cutting off the blood to his brain?

Dazzler escapes again, and this time makes it stick, throwing a can of peas through the store-front and so setting off the alarms.  By the time the Enforcers wake up from their light-induced comas, the police have already arrived.  All of this heroism has come at a price, though: Osgood now knows Alison's secret.  Even this works out in her favour, however; Harry promises he's not the bigoted type even regarding mutants that haven't saved his life.

Another happy ending, then.  But not one entirely without loose ends.  Techmaster has escaped justice, for one thing.  And, only the morning after saving her boss from his enemies, Dazzler finds herself approached by the latest in a long line of Shadowy Figures (this one wearing special anti-dazzle glasses), and she's forced at implied gunpoint into the back seat of a car, there to meet: Mr Meeker...


There's a few things to square away this issue.  Dazzler mentions her encounter with an unpleasant mob in DAZ #6 happened "recently".  If we set this issue the day after DAZ #7, then "recently" translates into "three days ago".  Which is technically fine, but I'd think you'd be more likely to describe that as "just days ago". 

There's also the fact that Dazzler manages a (brief) date with Dr Paul Sexyman (I don't remember his real name) here, which suggests a little time has passed, since during DAZ #7 Nurse Clungeblocker (I do remember her real name, this one is just funnier) was throwing away Dazzler's messages to him.  I suppose Alison could have simply called later in the day (or Sexyman could have picked up the phone and called her), of course.

Thirdly, we have the Mysterious Stranger, who in the final panel of DAZ #7 announced he would have to contact Alison "soon", and who has now moved to "ASAP", which again at least implies we're not following on directly.  Contrary to all of this, however, we have the fact that Montana, Ox and Fancy Dan were hired last issue to kill Osgood, and only make their first attempt this issue.  One presumes that when hires assassins to kill an unarmed fat man in a known location, one expects the job to be done with a certain degree of promptness.

In order to balance all this, as best as a man can, I'm going to assume we've skipped a day (presumably Montana and Fancy Dan needed a full 24 hours to explain the plan to Ox).  The issue itself takes place over two days.


Wednesday 11th to Thursday 12th of January, 1983.


X+4Y+276 to X+4Y+277.

Contemporary Events

Satellites detect unusual auroral features in the Earth's atmosphere.

Standout Line

"The explosion of pain in her stomach has not yet subsided as a rock-hard fist slams into her face -- her face!"


Ah, simpler times, eh?  Back when all a man needed to prove that they were evil even by the standards of lawless assassins was to punch a girl in the face, even though they were pretty.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Marvel Graphic Novel #4: "Renewal"

("And this is how the band got together.")


Wow, that was fast.  The X-Men's ion-trail isn't even cold, and Xavier has given them up for dead, and started recruiting their replacements.  Way to go, Charlie.  I wouldn't be able to replace my dog that quick.

Speaking of dogs, we start off in Scotland with Moira MacTaggert.  She's surprised by the arrival of a wolf (what?  What did you think I meant?), which would be strange enough in the 20th century even before you factor in that the lupine in question appears to be ginger.  Before Moira's astonished eyes, the wolf transforms into a fourteen year old girl, Rahne Sinclair, whom Moira personally delivered, Scotland hospitals being renowned for being so short on obstetric staff that they frequently outsource to world-renowned geneticists and/or the daughters of local lords.  A crack team of Bible-bashing torch wielders arrive to deliver God's justice (i.e. kill a child), but Moira scares them off.  That done, she resolves to bring her new wolf cub to Charles Xavier, to see if he can get her killed figure out how her powers work.

Meanwhile, in Brazil, Roberto DaCosta is playing in a football match, watched by his girlfriend as his father.  It would appear Roberto is the star player, but his opponents are far from happy about playing against someone half-black, and resolve to beat the crap out of him until he's pretty much black all over.  Which they manage, I guess, though probably not in the way they were hoping for.

Unsurprisingly, this exceptionally public mutant-outing leads to full-scale panic.

Deep in the Kentucky Appalachians, we meet sixteen year old Samuel Guthrie, who has given up his awaiting college scholarship to replace his dead father in the local coal mine.  Unsurprisingly, the same kind of miner owners that will work a man until he dies of black-lung are also the kind who'll let the support struts get too weak, and there's a cave-in on Sam's first day.  Fortunately, the stress activates his latent mutant abilities, and he's able to blast himself and a trapped colleague out to freedom by somehow turning his feet into rockets.

Next on our whistle-stop tour: the Medicine Bow Mountains, just outside Sundance, Colorado.  A young Native American girl sits in tune with nature (to the point where she can commune with cougars), only to learn from her wise and kindly grandfather Black Eagle, whose also a shaman - because in the Marvel Universe every single goddamn Native American has a wise and kindly paternal figure who's also a shaman - that he's sending her to Charles Xavier.  She has "powers of the mind" that Black Eagle wants her to learn to use under tutelage (for those who don't already know, Dani can create illusions of a person's worst fears).  Our girl Danielle Moonstar is appalled, disgusted that her blood could sell her out to the white man, the enemy of her blood - because in the Marvel Universe every single goddamn Native American also has a hatred of the white man that then becomes a wary trust and finally a strong enough bond of friendship for the phrase "I now realise that you are my tribe" to be uttered (unless they get themselves killed first, like Thunderbird).  Black Eagle tries to calm Dani down by telling her that Xavier was her father's closest friend. 

(So how come Professor X never mentions the guy, huh?  Because he's too busy making friends with more white people, that's why.  Hell, the guy was so furious that Cyclops left and the team chose a black woman to replace him as leader that Charles got himself infected with an alien's egg just to escape the shame.)

All of this is being observed by Pierce, a man apparently so lethally dangerous he can get away with wearing an 18th century wig along with a pink coat, and who is apparently determined to kill Xavier and the new mutants which are now manifesting.  A woman named Tessa tries to talk him out of his plan, but she's apparently stuck in a recycling bin (or maybe three small toploader washing machines), so there's not much she can do.  Pierce dreams of booting the mutants out of the Hellfire Club, and apparently this is stage one of the plan.  That night, vicious goons in high-tech armour (presumably on Pierce's orders, though I fail to see why) beat Black Eagle to death, causing Dani to swear vengeance.

Xavier himself has other business right now.  Moira has arrived with Rahne, and Reed Richards has sent over Xi'an Coy Mahn   The latter is capable of possessing the minds of others (as she demonstrates on Moira, which doesn't go down well at all with the werewolf), and is one of the "boat people", a refugee from Vietnam.  Admittedly, that's only a small nod toward the idea that developing an international character requires more than simply saying "I am from that place, which is not this place" over and over and over again (see Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, etc.) , but at this point I'll take it.  Combined with Rahne's deeply held Christian convictions (which tragically have led her to conclude mutant powers are "gifts from Satan") and Roberto's mixed-raced heritage, there's some evidence of Claremont growing as a writer, even if I'm not sure Roberto's race ever comes up again. [1]

Xi'an and Rahne want to be tutored, Xi'an for fear she becomes like her villainous uncle, and Rahne because - well, I'm not sure, but I suppose even a gift from Satan is better studied than ignored.  Xavier is hesitant, not particularly enamoured with the idea of teaching another group of youngsters about how best to go about getting themselves massacred, but Moira turns him around by reminding him his true dream is to help mutants learn to live with themselves - beating the crap out of supervillains was something of a sideline.

(Hands up who buys that, by the way.  If alcoholism is truly a disease of the mind, and if madness is doing the same thing time after time and expecting a different result, then Moira is being the mother of all enablers, right here.  Hell, these poor freaks don't even make it to the end of this comic before they're trying to avoid a brutal death at the hands of their enemies, though in fairness they both began their trips to America that way, too).

After some low-level haggling, the deal is done, and Xavier's is born anew.  Moments later, Black Eagle's letter arrives, asking Charles to help out his granddaughter.  Rahne and Xi'an have been students at the institute for exactly one page, and already they're off on a field trip.  What could possibly go wrong?


Xavier, Moira and the two teenagers arrive in Colorado the next day to find Black Eagle is dead, and that Dani is on the run from a trio of pink-armoured Hellflunkies on jetbikes.  Xi'an saves her from her pursuers (too late to help Dani's cougar, alas, but that's what you get for taking a wild big cat and domesticating it to the point it turns, ahem, pussy), and Xavier interrogates the only one she left conscious.  It turns out Pierce, whoever his, isn't just looking to move up with Hellfire.  He's looking at total mutant extermination, and the next two kids on the death list are Guthrie and Da Costa.  There isn't time to save them consecutively, so Xavier splits the team in two.  Once again, this is immediately putting in danger three teenage girls who you've only just been persuaded that you could avoid getting killed.

Moira, Xi'an and Dani head for Brazil,  By the next day they've picked up Roberto's trail, which leads to them quickly being arrested for the crime of asking about Da Costa just before someone tried to have him abducted, and after his girlfriend disappeared.  Nice to know the Brazilian police have the matter well in hand.  Using her powers, Xi'an and Dani escape, leaving Moira to explain what's going on, and they track Roberto down using a portable Cerebro scanner.  They follow him to the Rio slums, and watch him meet up with three Hellfire mooks.  It was they who kidnapped Juliana, his girlfriend, in order to bring him to heel.  Roberto powers up and tries to fight his way out, but his abilities keep shorting out on him.  Even with Xi'an and Dani joining the fight, the three assailants (who, we learn, are the mercenaries Wolverine carved up in UXM #133, and who showed up again in UXM #152) manage to kill Juliana before they're defeated.  Roberto is apoplectic with rage, and tells his rescuers that he has no intention of letting some random American "teach" him, though he's happy to join Dani's quest for vengeance and blood.

We switch focus to Xavier and Rahne.  Moira has called to let them know she's escaped the Brazilian justice system, but that there's already been one child killed in all this mess.  Xavier is still pondering the ramifications of this when their jeep is knocked off the road by a flame-sheathed human cannonball.  Pierce has recruited Guthrie!  I've always loved that twist, rather simplistic as it might seem by today's standards (then again, it might not - depends how much Geoff Johns you've been reading).  Charles is knocked unconscious and takn prisoner, but Rahne instinctively transforms into a wolf, and thus drops off the sensor readings of the men accompanying Guthrie - now codenamed Cannonball.    They take off in their helicopter, but Rahne is able to follow Xavier's scent back to base, transforming to and from wolf, human, and whatever it is lies between, whenever necessary, meaning she's already a more impressive example of lycanthropic derring-do than Altered Beast managed.
"Walk along, kick; walk along, kick; walk along, kick.
What an experience." - Dominic Diamond
(Yeah!  Watch me dis 24 year old games that hardly anyone ever remembers! Games that I actually kinda liked at the time because I was eight and didn't know anything about anything!  And because "Wise fwom your gwave!" never stopped being funny.  That's right!  I'm referencing specific parts of the game now!  Because that is how I roll!)

Rahne makes it through the Hellfire installation's outer defenses, and perches on the roof to peer in through a skylight.  Xavier has been hooked up to a combination power-dampener and brain-raper, with the Tessa woman from page 13 next in line for a nasty bit of synaptic scrambling. Cannonball arrives to put an end to her snooping, but Roberto, Dani and Xi'an have shown up too, and after a brief fight, they break into the base. 

Once inside, however, things go far less well.  Pierce is a cyborg, just like some of his men, and neither Dani nor Xi'an can use their powers against him. Both are easily dealt with, and Rahne receives a punctured lung when she tries to take on Pierce hand-to-hand.  Roberto doesn't do much better, hit by Cannonball from behind and shaken out of his alternate form.

In the end, though, it's Cannonball who saves them (and whilst putting him on Pierce's side initially was a nice idea, having him save the day at the last minute must have been horrifically cliched even in 1982).  Pierce has forgotten an elementary rule of supervillainy: find out a prospective employee's feelings regarding cold-blooded murder before you hire them for your security detail.

Pierce responds by attempting to put a bullet through Sam's skull, but the brief distraction is all Rahne needed to turn off the machinery keeping Xavier helpless, and Pierce is soon zombified by the force of Charles' will.  There's some brief concern over how to keep Pierce (currently under Karma's control) from breaking free and killing them all, but the now-free Tessa promises to take him to her Hellfire masters, who are liable to look rather poorly on attempts to have them all killed.  Sam is somewhat confused as to what to do next, but Roberto (who has decided to let Pierce live so as to not be like him, whcih makes precisely zero sense) makes things abundantly clear: Cannonball has made his bed, now he can lie in it, and count himself lucky his isn't bleeding brain matter into the pillows.


A fortnight later, Xavier calls his class into session.  His charges have changed into their New Mutant uniforms (not dissimilar to the second set of costumes worn by the original X-Men), though Dani has made a few Cheyenne-centric changes to hers.  Professor X decides to let it slide, telling himself he would be wrong to force her to conform, which is an interesting position, I think.  Could Rahne get away with wearing tartan?  What if Roberto decided he wanted a neckline in the shape of the Sugarloaf Mountains.  Hell, what if Kentucky-born Sam (who arrives a few minutes later, having been given a second chance by Xavier) decides he wants a medallion displaying the Blood-Stained Banner? [2]

I'm just saying, it would be interesting to know just how far Xavier would allow this customisation of his uniforms to go.  Though of course Dani's boots are awesome, so there may be some aesthetic considerations at play as well.

In any case, the New Mutants are now officially a team.  Their first adventure together was published until five months later, however, so it'll be a while before we see them again.  We still have to work out way through the X-Men's adventures in space.  Also, Dazzler might get a sore throat, or something, and we don't want to miss that now, do we?


The main question to consider here is how long it's been since the X-Men and Lilandra headed into space.  At least eight days pass between Moira meeting Rahne and the first time we see Xavier in these pages, but that alone strikes me as far too short a time for Xavier to have given up searching for the X-Men (even if the Shi'ar wouldn't return his calls, I'm sure the Fantastic Four would happily do some digging for him).

Let's asume then that by the time Xavier heads off to see Dani Moonstar, a full month has passed since the X-Men's disappearance.

The story itself takes place over three and a half weeks.


Tuesday 17th of May to Sunday 12th of June, 1983.


X+5Y+47 to X+5Y+73.

Contemporary Events

Lebanon, Israel and the United States sign an agreement on an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon.

The UK Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher win re-election in a landslide.

Standout Line

"<What can we do?!  We're only fourteen!  They are -- monsters!>"
"<So am I.>" - Juliana and Roberto.

[1]  Not that I'm arguing having Sunspot constantly wandering saying "As a person of mixed race, I think the following..." would have been a good idea.  I'm just saying it was something to his heritage beyond being from Brazil, and so if it isn't used, and nothing else is brought in on top of it, you reduce Da Costa to the previous model of Claremont's non-American characters: occasionally saying things in a foreign language that are immediately translated into English.

[2] Yes, yes, I know, Kentucky were never officially part of the Confederated States of America.  Enough of them joined up with Davis' forces to get them their own star on the Confederate Battle Flag, though.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Timeline: 1982 (Take 6)


1st   UXM 101: Like a Phoenix from the Ashes!
2nd UXM 101: Like a Phoenix from the Ashes!
3rd  UXM 101: Like a Phoenix from the Ashes!
4th  UXM 101: Like a Phoenix from the Ashes!
5th  UXM 101: Like a Phoenix from the Ashes!
6th  UXM 101: Like a Phoenix from the Ashes!
6th  UXM 102: Who Will Stop the Juggernaut?
6th  UXM 103: The Fall of the Tower


8th    UXM 104: The Gentleman's Name is Magneto
8th    UXM 105: Phoenix Unleashed!
8th    UXM 106: Dark Shroud of the Past (present)
8th    UXM 107: Where no X-Man has Gone Before!
8th    UXM 108: Armageddon Now!
9th    UXM 108: Armageddon Now!
9th    UXM 109: Home are the Heroes!
10th  U1C 1: Refuge
10th  U1C 2: To Err is Inhuman...
12th  U1C 3: The Next Life
13th  U1C 3: The Next Life
19th  U1C 4: Sisters of the Dragon
19th  U1C 5: The Knights of Hykon
20th  U1C 5: The Knights of Hykon
20th  U1C 6: The Sky is Falling
20th  U1C 7: The Shattered World
20th  U1C 8: The Curse of Craeliach
21st  U1C 8: The Curse of Craeliach
22nd U1C 8: The Curse of Craeliach


8th  UXM 110: The 'X'-Sanction!


25th UXM 111: Mindgames!
25th UXM 112: Magneto Triumphant!
26th UXM 112: Magneto Triumphant!
29th UXM 113: Showdown!
29th UXM 114: Desolation
30th UXM 114: Desolation


1st   UXM 114: Desolation
2nd   UXM 114: Desolation
3rd   UXM 114: Desolation
4th   UXM 114: Desolation
5th   UXM 114: Desolation
5th   UXM 115: Visions of Death!
6th   UXM 115: Visions of Death!
7th   UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
8th   UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
9th   UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
10th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
11th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
12th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
13th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
14th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
15th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
16th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
17th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
18th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
19th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
20th UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
21st UXM 116: To Save the Savage Land
21st UXM #117: Psi War!


2nd   UXM #118: The Submergence of Japan!
3rd    UXM #119: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas...
4th    UXM #119: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas...
5th    UXM #119: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas...
6th    UXM #119: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas...
7th    UXM #119: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas...
8th    UXM #119: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas...
9th    UXM #119: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas...
10th  UXM #119: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas...
11th  UXM #119: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas...
12th  UXM #119: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas...
13th  UXM #119: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas...
14th  UXM #119: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas...
14th  UXM #119: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas...
15st  UXM #120: Wanted: Wolverine!  Dead or Alive!
15st  UXM #121: Shoot-out at the Stampede!
22nd UXM #122: Cry for the Children!


14th   UXM #123: Listen -- Stop me if You've Heard it -- but This One Will Kill You!
14th   UXM #124: He Only Laughts When I Hurt!
15th   UXM #124: He Only Laughts When I Hurt!
20th   UXM Annual 3: A Fire in the Sky
21st   UXM #125: There's Something Awful on Muir Island!
22nd  UXM #125: There's Something Awful on Muir Island!
22nd  UXM #126: How Sharper than a Serpent's Tooth...!
23rd  UXM #126: How Sharper than a Serpent's Tooth...!
23rd  UXM #127: The Quality of Hatred!
23rd  UXM #128: The Action of the Tiger!
29th  UXM #129: God Spare the Child...
30th  UXM #129: God Spare the Child...


1st    UXM #129: God Spare the Child...
2nd   UXM #129: God Spare the Child...
2nd   UXM #130: Dazzler
3rd   UXM #130: Dazzler
3rd   UXM #131: Run for Your Life!
4th    UXM #132: And Hellfire is Their Name!
5th    UXM #132: And Hellfire is Their Name!
6th    UXM #132: And Hellfire is Their Name!
7th    UXM #132: And Hellfire is Their Name!
8th    UXM #132: And Hellfire is Their Name!
9th    UXM #132: And Hellfire is Their Name!
10th  UXM #132: And Hellfire is Their Name!
11th  UXM #132: And Hellfire is Their Name!
11th  UXM #133: Wolverine: Alone!
12th  UXM #133: Wolverine: Alone!
12th  UXM #134: Too Late, the Heroes!
12th  UXM #135: Dark
12th  UXM #136: Child of Light and Darkness
13th  UXM #136: Child of Light and Darkness
13th  UXM #137: The Fate of the Phoenix!
14th  UXM #137: The Fate of the Phoenix!
18th  UXM #138: Elegy
28th  UXM Annual 4: Nightcrawler's Inferno
29th  UXM #139: ...Something Wicked this Way Comes!
30th  UXM #139: ...Something Wicked this Way Comes!
30th  UXM #140: Rage!
31st  UXM #141: Days of Future Past
31st  UXM #142: Mind out of Time!
31st  DAZ #1: So Bright This Star


5th   DAZ #2: Where Demons Fear to Dwell!
6th   DAZ #2: Where Demons Fear to Dwell!
7th   DAZ #2: Where Demons Fear to Dwell!
8th   DAZ #2: Where Demons Fear to Dwell!
23rd DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!
24th DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!
25th DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!
26th DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!
27th DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!
28th DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!
29th DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!
30th DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!


1st DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!
2nd DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!
3rd DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!
4th DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!
5th DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!
6th DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!
7th DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!
8th DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!
9th DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!
10th DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!
11th DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!
12th DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!
13th DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!
14th DAZ #3: The Jewels of Doom!
14th DAZ #4: Here Nightmares Reside!
14th DAZ #5: Tell Joey I Love Him!
15th DAZ #5: Tell Joey I Love Him!
16th DAZ #5: Tell Joey I Love Him!
17th DAZ #5: Tell Joey I Love Him!
24th  UXM #143: Demon
25th  UXM #143: Demon

(Titles in red represent specials).

DAZ #7: "Fort Apache, The Hulk!"

(The calming powers of canines and cowardice.)


Outside the gig, all is understandably chaos.  The band and the audience both have fled the building with all possible speed.  Lance is made of sterner stuff, though, and vows to rescue Alison, a plan that lasts exactly as long as it takes for a piece of debris to almost crush him, after which he retreats.  He's done all he can do.

Meanwhile, Dazzler herself is following the Hulk's trail of devastation, still hoping she can reason with him somehow.  She finds him flinging pool tables around a student rec room, and starts preparing her lightshow.

Meanwhile, in a spacious Twin Towers office, a shadowy figure has recruited three supervillains, not by paying them, but by breaking them out of Ryker's Island.  Presumably he didn't have the resources to get into any particularly high security areas, however, because all he managed to liberate were "the Enforcers": Montana, who is quite handy with a lasso; Ox, a standard super-strong type who I doubt could beat the Hulk at a game of "point at your own face"; and the fantastically-named Fancy Dan, who looks like a '40s spiv, and can't even get down from a handstand without spilling Ox's drink.  Not, I would think, a trio to be particularly concerned about.

Still, I guess they'll have the element of surprise on their side.  I was surprised when I learned of their mission, anyway.  Shadowy McNoName has hired them to assassinate Harry S. Osgood, Dazzler's manager and... a multiple murderer?

Back at the college, Dazzler doesn't seem to able to do more than, ahem, dazzle the Hulk - he can't see well enough to beat her to death, but if anything he's causing more damage than ever now he's repeatedly being blinded. Alison catches a break when the military arrive; they don't do any better than her (even with their rather strange "grappler" tank, which reminds me of the gloriously mental array of specially-designed armoured vehicles the Americans deployed on the beaches of Europe on D-Day), but at least she gets her breath back, and Hulk has time to calm down a little and head for the science building "to think".

(The military bozos start off not believing in the Hulk as well, by the way.  Which frankly seems like a step beyond ludicrous obtuseness and into full-blown dickiness.  They're calling Thunderbird Ross and all their comrades out west liars?)

Alison sneaks into the building behind the Hulk, still determined to stop him from hurting anyone, but now that he's on his own, the Hulk seems calmer.  He even frees the dogs that are being kept in cages for experimentation, which of course makes him immediately completely awesome.  Dazzler makes the link between how she dealt with the Hulk and how the mob treated her after she stopped that mugging a few days earlier.  It's not a perfect fit, of course - I don't remember Alison threatening to take apart anyone who got in her way - but it isn't a bad idea, and explains why that scene was in there in the first place (originally I'd just assumed DeFalco didn't have enough material for two full issues, and was offering his own take on the grand old tradition of mid-arc filler).  And I suppose it's pretty hard to feel too good about sneaking up on something whilst it has its back turned, and is stroking a doggy.

The arrival of another squad of soldiers threatens to ruin everything; Dazzler gets rid of them with a burst of light, but the Hulk assumes she's back to cause more trouble.  Perhaps taking inspiration from the canine spectators, Alison rolls over, admitting that she can't possibly beat the Hulk, and that he scares the crap out of her besides.  Satisfied by her surrender, Hulk allows her to stay, and even lets her put on a soothing light show for him, which works so well that he reverts back to Bruce Banner.  Feeling sorry for him, Dazzler smuggles him off campus with her band's gear, and gives him $200 as he hits the highway once more.

That was the only money Alison had, of course, though that doesn't occur to her until she returns home to an empty fridge.  She phones Dr Paul, hoping perhaps he'll finally get around to buying him breakfast, but the prissy nurse Ms. Collins answers.  Apparently her hatred of Dazzler stems from her own romantic interest in the good doctor, and she's running interference, telling Alison that Dr Paul is never free, and Dr Paul that Alison never calls.

There are bigger concerns at present, however.  Whomever it was stalking around the building during rehearsals last issue, he shows up again during the fight with the Hulk, and now he's standing directly outside Alison's apartment, preparing to make contact, so that she can "be of use"...


Looking back at the last two issues, there's a glaring fault in the timeline as is: it's clearly term time for Gordon University.   We therefore need to add in four weeks somewhere, in order to ensure this is taking place in early January, rather than early December (indeed, Dazzler's gig could well be part of a term-starting shindig).  Looking back over the last six issues, I suspect the easiest option is to add ten days or so to each of the periods between DAZ #2 and DAZ #3, and DAZ #5 and DAZ #6.  I'll post the updated - and now hopefully finalised - 1982 timeline later today.  This also means that we're finally past UXM #143, chronologically speaking.

The issue itself starts immediately after the last one ended, and continues into the following morning.


Sunday 8th to Monday 9th of January, 1983.


X+4Y+274 to X+4Y+275.

Contemporary Events

American professional wrestler Chris Masters is born, who from my various brief discussions on the subject with those who know about such things, I believe is sort of a big deal.

Standout Line

"Hulk will let girl live!  If girl doesn't call Hulk "gentle" again.  Girl is stupid!"

Note to self, ladies; the only thing more embarrassing than catching a guy masturbating is catching him cuddling puppies and cooing lovingly.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

UXM #162: "Beyond The Farthest Star"

(Logan's run.)


In media res, bitches!  Wolverine is running for his life through some kind of bizarre alien jungle, with a trio of Brood hunters right behind him. There are shades here of the Wolverine miniseries I lavished such praise on not too long ago.  The first-person "I'm the best there is..." narrative and general vibe of weary violence are pretty similar, certainly.  The overall effect is somewhat less impressive, though; it's amazing what a difference a lack of Miller's evocative pencils and the shadowy backstreets of Tokyo can make.

Not that this setting has nothing to recommend it.  The alien jungle itself seems like the standard off-the-shelf weird alien setting you might find in any sci-fi story, but the pull-back on pages 6 and 7 reveal that said arboreal setting, along with a nearby Brood city, is nested within the carcass of one of the impossibly big space creatures the Brood use as their starships, "its "ribs reachin' above the breathable planetary atmosphere."  That's a great image, and a pleasingly unsettling location, especially since it ties in with one of the story's narrative strands - creatures inside other creatures that really shouldn't be there.

In Wolverine's case, there's a developing Brood queen somewhere inside him, causing him agonising pain, and has a Brood hunting party hot on his heels.  He manages to ditch his pursuers by the rather unorthodox aim of falling into a web of some local creature so voracious the Brood haven't the chitin-wrapped balls to go in after him.  Unfortunately for Wolverine, he doesn't have time to dispatch the oncoming flesh-hungry horrors before he's overcome by a flashback.  Presumably this is a side-effect of Brood implantation; the embryo keeps forcing you to relive the point at which you were impregnated, so as to repeatedly drive home how utterly screwed you are.  Of course, it's also quite useful to us, since we have no idea exactly what Logan is doing here in the first place.

We're back aboard Lilandra's royal yacht, the Z'reee Shar (how does a xenolinguist decide how many "e"s to put in that name anyway?), once again watching the X-Men knocked out by Deathbird's bomb.  When Wolverine awakes, he and his fellows are surrounded by Brood warriors, but he's the only one who can see them.  Everyone else is convinced they're visiting the Shi'ar homeworld, and have seemingly forgotten Deathbird's sudden arrival.  The non-mutant Carol Danvers is taken away for "study", and the rest of our heroes are brought before an alien dignitary, who even Wolverine thinks is humanoid until she begins injecting eggs into each of the X-Men.

Wolverine wakes from his flashback for long enough to fight against his captors, racking up enough kills to persuade the web-spinners that it's more sensible to leave the mutant alone and feast on those he's already chopped up, and Logan can make good his escape.  The combined toll of his escape, his original flight, and whatever is wriggling away within his body finally catch up, though, and he collapses with exhaustion. 

Another vision is triggered (man, this Brood queen larva is a real bitch, huh?), forcing Wolverine to recall waking up inside the Brood city, after implantation.  Storm is with him, but refuses to listen to his concerns, so he heads off alone, just in time to watch Fang, a former Imperial Guardsman and now a flunky of Deathbird, succumb to a Brood egg.  Apparently the Brood didn't even wait until Deathbird had delivered the mutants to betray her, or maybe Fang's alien metabolism allowed the egg to develop faster.   Either way we get our first indication of how the process works: the Brood don't burst out of you Alien style, but burn half your flesh and skin away, and warp the other half to form its own casing.

If anything, that's worse than the results of getting French kissed by a facehugger, but f I were forced to choose, I'd definitely be wanting advice from Sophie.

His mind back in the present, Logan spots Fang-Brood out on its first flight, testing its wings as it flies through the jungle.  He jumps it, and demands it carries him back to the city, but another attack leaves him temporarily helpless, and his unwilling mount throws him into a throng of "sleazoids."  Wolverine kills them all, obviously, but the strain brings on the metamorphosis.

This particular Brood queenlet may have bitten off more than her milk-fangs can chew, though.  Wolverine not only has a powerful healing factor, but his skeleton is adamantium, which is difficult to turn into internal organs.  Indeed, by the following morning, the queen is dead, and Wolverine triumphant, though the transformation has left his skin looking a bit more like the Thing's than he's presumably happy with.

Still, he's alive, and free of the Brood's influence.  Next on the to-do list: slaughter the X-Men before they suffer the same fate as Fang...


The timeline for this story is tricky to work out, what with the X-Men now being on an alien world.  Wolverine's flight from the Brood begins in darkness and continues past sunrise, but what exactly does that mean on this particular celestial sphere?

Still, Wolverine describes his awakening in the Brood city as taking place "last night", and since he doesn't note anything particularly off about the passage of the night on this world, we can assume it has a day that's at least roughly the same as our own.  If we assume the mutants were implanted the day after the ambush on the Z'reee Shar, we can assume Wolverine beats the Brood egg's effects on him somewhere around three days after the X-Men first left Earth.


Sunday 19th to Monday 20th of May, 1983.


X+5Y+49 to X+5Y+50.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.72 standard years.

(Colossus is 25 years old).

"It is a hard reality to face." 
Contemporary Events

Standout Line

"That egg has now reached maturity.  It is 'hatching'.  It will consume you, Fang, transform you.  And in the process, absorb the totality... of your memories, your abilities, your genetic potential."

So, a few questions.  What did the Brood use as hosts before they got out into the stars?  Were they even sentient?  Indeed, were the Brood sentient?  Or did they just luck out one day, implant some passing Kree, and suddenly understand what a warp drive was?  It was mentioned at some point in the previous issues that there's only one Brood queen.  Was that always true?  Or is there only one left now because she was the one lucky enough to work out the advantages of gunpowder and the wheel?  Sort of like MorningLightMountain, for those who get the reference.

Gods, how depressing would it have been to spend generations having to absorb the memories of their world's equivalent of cows, or dung beetles?  No wonder they're always so bad-tempered.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

DAZ #6: "The Hulk Can Be Hazardous To Your Health!"

("The music of pain.")


You know, having mocked this title for the last five issues, I think I'm starting to warm to it.  I mentioned before that Dazzler has certain similarities to Spider Man, principally the difficulty in holding down a job whilst also having to contend with super powers.  But it's becoming increasingly clear that this book twists that idea in two main ways.

First: Dazzler's quest to become a singing sensation is a horrible grind (despite both her talent and her looks) quite independently of her superpowers.  Alison's two lives are separate rather than intertwined.  More importantly, though, Dazzler is absolutely desperate to not have anything to do with superheroics.  "With mediocre power comes great desire to be left alone", as it were.  Indeed, we're two thirds of the way through this issue before Dazzler comes across anything out of the ordinary (muggers notwithstanding).  In place of mission briefings and portentous build-up, DeFalco is building up his cast of characters, all of which all belong to Dazzler's "normal life".  The portly and imperious Osgood, the dismissive Cassandra, and the preening narcissist Lance are now joined by a new backing band for Alison; guitar player Marx, bassist Hunch, and drummer Beefer.  None of them have much of in the way of character yet (barring Beefer, who's shtick seems to be he's a big man with a borderline eating disorder), but I'm glad to see them introduced for the names alone.

So, let's talk plot.  The band have only just gotten together, and are hammering out their sound, but Osgood already has a gig lined up for them.  And this one will even pay, which makes a change.  There's always a catch, of course, and in this case, it's that they've been booked as a country band, despite not one of them looking like they've so much as heard of Hank Williams.  Worse is to come, when Dazzler observes an attempted subway mugging as she makes her way home, and feels compelled to intervene.  She manages to beat the muggers (just barely, by channelling the noise made by an approaching subway train) but her fellow commuters repay her with an attempted lynching, fearing her to be a mutant.  Showbiz travails and the mutant metaphor.  And we've not even gotten to the jade juggernaut yet.

Things pick up when Alison gets home to find Dr Paul waiting for her.  Well, she thinks things have picked up, at least.  I'm less convinced of the value of discovering a man who treated you for head trauma has used your medical records to follow you home.  I guess nothing seems creepy if it's being done by someone sexy enough?  Either way, Doctor Paul doesn't have long to drug her and tie her up in the sewers enjoy a bottle of wine before his pager goes off, and he has to return to the hospital.  So now you have the difficulties inherent in a struggling singer attempting to date a characteristically busy doctor, set against the backdrop of the disco-soundtracked '80s and its attendant bigotry.  With a ludicrous backing band and pussy-hungry bodyman for comic relief.  Frankly, I'm not sure you need the superheroics on top of that, though I admit that I probably wouldn't read it.

Of course, I wouldn't be reading this, if I didn't suffer from the hideous condition known as OCDX. 

What?  Look it up, it's real.

The next day, Dazzler, Lance and the boys arrive at Gordon College for their gig.  Also on campus is a certain Doctor Bruce Banner, looking to get a cleaning job that will give him an excuse to check out the science labs and their promising genetic research.  Alas, HR is too savvy to hire a guy without a social security number, but Lance offers him ten dollars to play roadie, and Banner accepts.

Later, during Dazzler's surprisingly well-received set (apparently a cowboy hat and the odd "Yee-haw!" has carried the day), Banner breaks into the labs, only to be immediately rumbled.  The resulting chase causes Brucie to hulk out, and the perennially confused green titan gets still madder when he falls down a lift shaft, swearing vengeance against those who brought him to this (which I think is gravity, pretty much, but whatever).  His first port of call on his poorly-defined rampage of revenge proves to be the stage, where Dazzler and band are about to wrap up.

Dazzler is somewhat surprised by this particular stage invader, especially since she didn't really believe the Hulk was real in the first place (seriously, does no-one in the Marvel Universe pay any attention?).  For his part, the Hulk is somewhat unimpressed to find four people wearing the exact same kind of stupid hats sported by those who tried to kill him in Texas.  So is it the Hulk who's hazardous to your health, or just country music?  Battle, inevitably, ensues.  Dazzler gets the chance to try out generating holograms, but she hasn't gotten it down yet.  On the other hand, Hulk's battle-plan in its entirety is to "small all light", which doesn't go very well, ultimately causing an unfortunate collision with some high-voltage equipment and a hasty retreat.

Despite realising that she's outmatched, even by the standards of her recent battles, Alison chases after the Hulk to try and stop him causing any more damage.  Meanwhile, in the darkness of the auditorium, someone is watching her every move.


This story begins on a Friday, and continues until Saturday evening.  The surrounding foliage seems a bit lush for the first third of December, but whatever else this title is, it's pretty specific on the various stages of Dazzler's career, and I don't see how there could possibly have been time to get to other side of winter.


Friday 10th to Sunday 11th of December, 1982.


X+4Y+255 to X+4Y+256.

Contemporary Events

The UN's provisions for the law of the sea are agreed.

Standout Line

"Here, Cassandra, let me move this incredibly heavy speaker over here so you can have a seat." - Lance

Thursday, 12 January 2012

UXM #161: "Gold Rush!"

(Nazis in Kenya, mutants in space.)


The present day

The X-Men are gathered around Xavier's bedside, having finally come to the conclusion that no-one's going to be switching his lights back on.  Scott is taking it particularly hard - losing people after he's finally learned to trust them completely has been something of a recurring theme for him ever since childhood.  Frankly, he's a bit unbearable on the subject, but in his defence he both realises and admits it.  It's also interesting to learn that Wolverine has worked out a great deal of this for himself.  He notes to Kitty that the two are quite alike in how they deal with loss, and it suddenly occurs to me that from this perspective, you could almost see Logan as simply being Scott about another two dozen unbearable losses down the line. Amnesia or no, a century's worth of repeated bereavement has to leave its marks.

Whilst the X-Men ponder what to do next, Xavier is dreaming.  And, happily for us, it's a very important dream, historically speaking.  We are therefore proud to present: When Xavier Met Magnus or Retcon 101.


Xavier has come to see his old friend Dr Shomron in Haifa.  Shomron is a psychiatrist, and right now he's in Israel to help treat Holocaust victims.

This brings us back to an old problem - using the Holocaust as a story point in a superhero comic.  A great deal has been written on this subject (including by me, from time to time), so I won't go back over it, except to say that for anyone who believes that the subject is an awkward fit in the world of capes and KAZAMs, including it alongside cackling supervillain Nazis wielding "Satan gloves" really doesn't help.

Alas, cackling supervillain Nazis is exactly what we get.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves.  Xavier has been summoned in the hopes he can get through to one of Shomron's patients, Gabrielle Haller, a concentration camp survivor who was rendered completely catatonic by the experience (presumably the fact that Xavier himself is in similar straits right now is why we're getting this story in this issue; I can't see any particular reason otherwise).  After a few moments of soul-searching, in which Charles considers whether he (and by extension psychiatrists in general) automatically have the right to try and unpick an unwilling - or at least not clearly willing - patient's mental defences, however unhealthy they seem to be (I've read some interesting articles on this - how exactly is "sick" defined in the psychological arena, and who gets to decide when someone needs to be "healed"?), Xavier goes for a stroll around Gabrielle's synapses.

It transpires the young woman has reforged her memories into the abstract - giant swastika demons drag her away, torture her, and finally turn her to gold.  This spares Claremont and Cockrum from having to directly represent the Holocaust (again, though, if there are very good reasons why you don't want to tackle the Holocaust directly, it's at least arguable that you need to think twice about using it at all), and also provides us with a mystery.  Why does Gabrielle think the Nazis turned her to gold?

Whatever the answer, Xavier's ministrations awakens her, and for a few weeks, she, Xavier, and a volunteer at the hospital (another Holocaust survivor, tattooed in Auschwitz) become good friends.  Indeed, Gabrielle and Xavier fall for each other, and strike up a romance.  I shall note without comment that Xavier spent more time debating whether he had the right to wake Gabrielle from her fugue than he does wrestling with whether or not it would be OK to shag her.  

That's when the Nazis attack, and kidnap Gabrielle.  During the attack, Magnus reveals his astonishing mutant powers by massacring a few Nazis, starting off the first of his endless arguments with Charles over under what circumstances perforating one's enemies with metal shards constitutes a proportional response.  Fortunately, Magnus missed one, and Xavier gets Gabrielle's location from his mind.  In front of everyone.  Whilst specifically telling the man what he's doing.  Later on, he will be surprised Magnus knows he's a mind-reader, which in this case is functionally equivalent to being surprised that  man with a Central European accent can speak German.


Two days later, upon arrival at the HYDRA Bruderschaft's camp in Kenya, our intrepid duo learn Gabrielle's mind contained the location of a massive stockpile of Nazi gold, hidden in a cave system beneath a mountain.  The two wait for a chance to free her (interestingly, it's Magnus that counsels caution; one wonders how things would have played out had Gabrielle been a mutant) whilst her captor, Baron Struker ("One of the most wanted Nazi war criminals!") digs out the gold to rapturous seig heiling.

The two of them manage to free Gabrielle, but she retreats back into her catatonic state, and HYDRA spot them trying to spirit her away.  A fight breaks out, giving Magnus another opportunity to berate Charles for his wishy-washy empathy, and the chance at long last to beat the tar out of an honest-to-God Nazi.  In the process, Magnus gets to explain his philosophy - the Third Reich was just the ultimate expression of the most common side of human nature, and his only interest now is to ensure the next lunatic with a thing for black uniforms and ethnic cleansing can't get their hands on the mutant population.  Having used his power to collapse the cave on top of Struker, save Charles and Gabrielle, and steal a quite extraordinary amount of gold, Magnus flies off to begin his campaign to keep mutants safe.

Even at this early stage, it's clear to Charles that this means bad news down the road.  In the plus column, however, Gabrielle has broken out of her catatonia again -

Present day

- and now, so has Xavier, following Lilandra's voice back to consciousness much as Gabrielle did with his two decades ago.  Clearly, this is good news all around, but it's tinged with meloncholy - Lilandra has spent far too long on Earth nursing her beloved; she must return to her empire almost immediately.  First, though, she organises a huge feast on the royal yacht (now orbiting Earth).  Charles is still too shaky to attend, but the X-Men bravely go on without him, determined not to let his weakness stop them from dressing up like idiots and eating all the space-caviar.

Such bravery!  And yet all for naught.  Lilandra is only a short way into her toast when she too collapses into a coma (what is it with Xavier's taste in women?).  Our heroes have no time to react before Deathbird reveals herself, taking credit for her sister's catatonia, and detonates an explosive device hidden beneath the table, taking the whole team out.  Deathbird then presents their prostrate forms to her Brood allies, who declare themselves well pleased.  These are exactly the sort of gift you'd give to the discerning Brood Queen, a stylish range of super-powered mammals in which to store her eggs...


This was our last chance to make sense out of UXM Annual #6's odd continuity, and it looks like Claremont's blown it.  We're about to head off on another of his interstellar epics, and the state of play upon our hero's return is entirely incompatible with their situation during their adventure in Cornwall.

We'll have to stick with the rather leaky patch slapped together last time around, and that the team came back to the island just after rescuing Storm.  As far as the timing of events in this issue, it's possible to believe it all takes place in around a day.  That doesn't give Lilandra's servants too long to put together the opulent banquet, but I presume Shi'ar cookery techniques are light-years ahead of our own.

Even so, since the issue begins at sunset, the story must straddle two days.


Tuesday 15th to Wednesday 16th of May, 1983.


X+5Y+45 to X+5Y+46.

Compression Constant

1 Marvel year = 3.71 standard years.

(Colossus is 25 years old).

"You look exquisite, Katya."
Contemporary Events

Neville Wran, then premier of New South Wales, steps down amidst allegations of attempting to influence magistrates.
Standout Line

"Hate is more popular than love." - Magneto